Harare — who hold both boys and girls’ titles — are fielding two additional teams at the Kushava Top Schools Under-20 tournament.
Kushava Sports director Kwinisi Bwanali said they injected US$20 000 for prizes and administration.
There will be trophies and medals for the winners.
The Most Valuable Player for both boys and girls will be rewarded while a team of 20 outstanding players would be selected at the end of the event.
The tournament is limited to school players born after January 1, 1991.
Basketball Union of Zimbabwe director of competitions Simon Lawson said the tournament this year will feature 12 teams comprising winning schools from the country’s 10 provinces, defending champions and the hosts.
In the past, the competition used to have 10 schools representing each province in each section but invitations have been extended to the hosts and the title-holders.
“This is the first time that we are having 12 teams at the event.
“It’s going to increase the level of competition and I hope the competition is now open,” he said.
Prince Edward are the defending boys’ champions while Girls High won the girls’ section last year in Harare.
Churchill and Roosevelt have won the qualifiers this year from Harare to make up the four teams to represent the province. The teams from the capital are largely made up of players who featured for the province at the National Youth Games and won gold medals.
“Harare team have always been stronger over the years.
“But there could be surprises from the unheralded teams that are making their debuts,” said Lawson.
Founders, Serima and St. Antonys are going to the finals for the fist time and will be determined to leave their mark while PE, Churchill and Mazoe have been the dominate forces in the boys.
Girls High and Roosevelt will try to overcome Midlands champions Regina Mundi and the hosts Northlea who are banking on home advantage and support.
In the past, Delta Beverages through their Sprite brand used to support the tournament until Kushava, who are involved in the construction of basketball, volleyball and tennis courts came on board last year.
Lawson said the national Under-18 players who had been in camp to prepare for the Afro-Basketball Championships in Kigali, Rwanda, next month had been released to play for their schools.
“I know Founders have one player in the national team while Mutare have two and PE have also provided players,” said Lawson.
Initially the tournament was meant to be a joint top schools event with volleyball but the other discipline was scrapped off.
“Volleyball have already hosted their national championships, so there was no need to have another top schools, according to NASH,” Lawson said.