HARARE — Seton Hall University’s Alexandra Maseko may have finished her four-year college games with a disappointing 51-45 defeat to St John’s in the Big East Championship on Saturday, but her experience will be much needed as Zimbabwe faces a historic challenge later this year.
Zimbabwe has qualified to the 2013 Afrobasket for the first time since 1994 and she is rated as one of the most prominent players in the country.
Under legendary head coach Anne Donovan, the 1,90m forward brought her college career to a close with six points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes as Seton Hall finished with an 11-20 record for the season.
Now, Zimbabwe needs the 23-year-old’s services.
Maseko averaged 4,5 points and 4,5 rebounds during the 2009 Africa Zone VI qualifier tournament, but Zimbabwe lost both games to South Africa.
Last month, Zimbabwe achieved a double win (94-34 and 67-30) over Botswana in the 2013 Afrobasket qualifier held in Mozambique’s capital of Maputo, to secure a remarkable return to Africa’s flagship women’s tournament.
Zimbabwe women’s team has an average age of 24 and is coached by Skhumbuzo Ndlovu.
Maseko is expected to join a group of internationals that includes Sharon Chamwarura, Rachel Makoni, Dorcas Marondera, Charity Chigumba, Margaret Magwaro and Sibongile Mkandla.
By the time this year’s Afrobasket tips off in September, Zimbabwe will end a 19-year Afrobasket drought, seen in the country as a rewarding moment, especially as this team has been playing together since the youth categories.
Maseko captained Zimbabwe U-20 team during the 2007 All-Africa Games as well as Zimbabwe National Youth Games and the Africa Zone VI Youth Games.
Zimbabwe began their basketball revamp in 2007 with the U-16 and U-18 showing at African tournaments in 2007.
The challenge is now to find how competitive Zimbabwe can become.
Addison Chiware, chairman of Basketball Union Zimbabwe, said they expect to be a quality competitor in six months’ time.
“We expect to stand up and be counted. We expect to win at least two games in the round robin stage,” Chiware told FIBA.com.
“Zimbabwe is not a tall team in Africa, but what we lack for in height we compensate with a big heart for the game and a never-say-die attitude. We have an immense fighting spirit,” he explained.