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Basketball team steps up preparations

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The men’s national basketball team has stepped up preparations for the 2011 All-Africa Games qualifiers which will take place in South Africa from January 8.

The players went through their paces at the University of Zimbabwe basketball courts on Monday under the watchful eye of coach Ngoni Mukukula and his assistant Tendai Nyagumbo.

A provisional squad of 17 players will be trimmed to the required 12 later this week ahead of departure on January 5.

Mozambique will not take part at the games as they have already qualified by virtue of being the hosts but will however focus on the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Nations that will take part at the qualifiers include hosts South Africa, Malawi, Swaziland, Namibia and Botswana.

In an interview with NewsDay on the sidelines of the training session, Mukukula said although some players did not join camp early, preparations had been progressing well.

“The preparations have been progressing well even though we could have got a few other players in camp earlier than what has happened.

“We still have to get a couple of players from Bulawayo who we think will add value to this team.

“I’m however excited about the response we got from Mutare who have brought in two players while the interest shown by players outside Zimbabwe has been encouraging,” said Mukukula.

The Dzivaresekwa Raiders coach said they had done their homework in learning more about their opponents since some of the players in the current team had played against Mozambique and South Africa.

“We have been doing our homework about some of our opponents at the tournament. For example Mozambique is coming from a background which is similar to ours of having to rely on young players.

“South Africa on the other hand face a dilemma of either competing with a new side or bringing in the old horses who pipped us by one point when we hosted them during the Zone Six Games early this year.”

Former JBC player Eric Banda, who is now turning out for Costa Do Sol in Mozambique and Namibia based Mpumelelo Hlabangana who plies his trade at Civic Stars are some of the foreign-based players in the team.

Mutare-based Stenan Mapurisana who plays for Cape Town Kings in South Africa did not take part in Monday’s training session due to some family commitments.

Zimbabwe Team: Tatenda Mataruse; Allan Zimbangu; Hamilton Mudawarima; Eric Banda; Tinashe Muchenje; Simbarashe Murahwa; Allan Tegunde; Vitalis “Alefu” Chikoko; Mpumelelo Hlabangana; Farai Tumbare; Tawanda Kadira; Masimba Mukupe; Menard Masawi; Norest Shenje; Nevile Chivhanganye; Tawanda Chitsinde; Stenan Mapurisana

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