Temwa Mtawali of the Comox Valley was part of the B.C. boys basketball team that won a silver medal at the Canada Summer Games in Niagara. In its only defeat, the team lost 81-70 to Ontario in the gold medal game Saturday, Aug. 13.
With the game tied at half, the 18-year-old Mtawali said B.C. had a “tough third quarter” where they scored just three points.
“The third quarter is what did us in,” he said. “We actually outscored them in the fourth quarter but the third quarter was awful on our part.”
B.C. coach Paul Eberhardt said the team played well throughout the tournament, and commended the boys for launching a comeback in the final quarter of the final game.
“But a team that athletic, you can’t give them a 15-point lead. It’s too much to overcome,” said Eberhardt, noting Ontario had a pair of seven-foot players.
En route to the final, B.C. beat Saskatchewan 117-81 in the quarter-final, and Alberta 98-74 in the semis.
Working with a deep lineup, Eberhardt was able to play 12 guys in most of the games. Mtawali started some games and came off the bench in others.
“As I told the guys we didn’t have any starters, it was just the matchups of the day and who would do well.”
Nevertheless, he was impressed with Mtawali’s skill set and athleticism in the point guard position.
“He distributed the ball well,” Eberhardt said of the six-foot Mtawali. “When he would get going with his shot, it was pretty to watch. He was streaky, but when he started hitting one or two, you knew a few more were coming…He’s a very dynamic player, and exciting to watch. He’s very explosive at the offensive end. I really enjoyed coaching him.”
A modest Mtawali said the tournament was not his best, but not his worst.
“It was fun,” he said. “Definitely a worthwhile experience. A bunch of skilled players from all over the province. It’s hard to find that balance. There is no one star on a team like that. All the guys are used to being the main guy. There was a bit of frustration, but in the end we all accepted our role. I think we were probably the best team, as for working together and our coaching. But Ontario is just very athletic, and dominant on rebounds and things like that.”
A 2022 graduate of Isfeld Secondary in Courtenay, Mtawali has earned a U Sports scholarship and an academic entrance scholarship to attend the University of B.C. He is now on campus for pre-season training with the Thunderbirds basketball squad. Tbirds head coach Kevin Hanson notes Mtawali’s “amazing high school career” where he showed leadership and skill.
“He was aggressive on the offensive side of the ball,” Hanson said. “As soon as I spoke with him I knew he was a great fit for our program. He is the true definition of a student-athlete. He is goal driven, and has very high expectations for himself on the court and in the classroom. We love what we see so far.”