Zim out of U-16 Nations Cup

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Zimbabwe have failed to qualify for the biannual Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations basketball championships at the zonal qualifiers held in Zambia over the weekend.

The country fielded a boys’ and girls’ team. The Zimbabwe girls’ team missed out by a whisker as they were tied on seven points with winners South Africa and third-placed Mozambique, but lost it out on points difference.

Zambia and Botswana finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Zimbabwe posted positive results against Zambia 59–39, Botswana 176–6 and South Africa 66–53, but lost to eventual tournament winners Mozambique 68 -49 to be in contention for a wild card entry.

The Zimbabwe boys’ team however failed to make an impression after falling 75 -70 to South Africa, 51–49 to Angola. Mozambique were to compound their woes with a 74–30 defeat, but they bounced back to beat hosts Zambia 55–52.

Their next victory was a 72–22 thumping of Botswana, but the victories could only see them finishing on position four behind South Africa, Mozambique and Angola. Zambia and Botswana finished fifth and sixth respectively.

The Under-16 boys Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Egypt in July with the girls’ tournament being hosted by Mozambique in the same month.

South Africa boys’ and Mozambique girls’ teams won the right to represent the region at the finals to be held in Egypt and Mozambique respectively.

Shinga Magede, who was the head of delegation, said the women’s team could bounce back through the wild card entry.

“The teams played very well and we were unlucky to lose the opening match against South Africa 70-75. The boys were tired when we played the first match and that is why we lost. That loss took the steam out of the boys and that could be the reason why they lost their following matches.

“I am happy with the performance of the girls’ team as they finished second, but tied on points with the eventual winners South Africa,” he said.

Magede, however, expressed disappointment at the way the tournament was run by the host nation.
“There are a number of things that we were not happy with, but maybe it is because the country was hosting the tournament for the first time. It is my hope that next time they would have improved,” he said.

If Zimbabwe gets the wild card entry, it would be the second time they would have qualified for an international event through back door. The Under-18 side qualified for the All-Africa Games through the wild card entry.

Angola women’s team did not take part at the Zone Six qualifiers, as they are the holders of the tournament.