Zim girls basketball team wins opener in Zambia

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The Zimbabwe Under-16 girls’ basketball team beat hosts Zambia 39-59 to get their campaign at the ongoing Zone VI Under-16 championships at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka over the weekend.

The Zone championships are qualifiers for 2011 Under-16 AfroBasket Championships, whose venue is yet to be decided and will run until Friday.

The good performances by the girls’ team came as the boys struggled in their first two matches which they lost to South Africa and Angola.

The Laddie Munetsi-coached side opened their campaign on a losing note on Saturday after going down 71-75 to South Africa before losing by two points in a nail-biter against Angola 51-49 on Sunday.

On Monday the Zimbabwean boys were set to meet regional powerhouses Mozambique in a must-win match if they were to entertain any hopes of making a comeback in the tournament.

However, according to the Times of Zambia the Zimbabwean girls have done well as they managed to win their first match on Sunday and were set to meet Mozambique on Monday.

According to reports on Sunday, the Zambian girls started the match bubbling with confidence following their 102-18 win against Botswana on the opening day, Saturday.

The hosts were more co-ordinated in the first quarter with Miriam Mulambo and Zeko Chulu showing off their skills and taking the game to the opponents.

However, Zimbabwe came back strong in the second quarter and exposed the local girls’ defensive lapses through playmaker Melisa Majonga.

This made Zambia coach Joseph Chowa to furious with his defenders as their opponents posted baskets at will.

Chowa made two simultaneous substitutions which proved fatal as Zimbabwe started exploiting all weaknesses, especially the diminutive stature of Zambian players.

The coach, who seemed frustrated with the results, said in an interview with The Times of Zambia that the defeat was a setback and alleged that basketball administrators in Zambia were to blame for the loss.

Countries taking part in the tournament include South Africa, Malawi, Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe and hosts Zambia, and only the winner qualifies for the AfroBasket Championships.

Zimbabwe have never qualified for this competition, but will this time be hoping for a change of fortunes.