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Tough draw for women’s basketball team

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THE national women’s basketball team should brace for a tough debut appearance at the 2013 Afrobasket Women’s Championship after being drawn against Africa’s heavyweights for the continent’s flagship women’s tournament to be held in Mozambique in September.

Report by Daniel Nhakaniso

The 12-team women’s continental championship takes place in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, from September 20-29. Zimbabwe, who qualified for the tournament for the first time in February, were drawn in Group A alongside hosts and pre-tournament favourites Mozambique, whom they play in the tournament opener.

The other teams in Group A include Senegal, the 2011 Afrobasket runners-up and the most successful African team (10 continental titles), Ivory Coast, Egypt and the winner of a play-off between Tunisia and Algeria.

Mali, Africa’s highest-ranked team in the Fiba women’s world rankings, along with Kenya, Cape Verde and Cameroon are in Group B with Angola and Nigeria. The top two teams from the continental competition will qualify for the 2014 Fiba World Championship for Women in Turkey.

In February, 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 ticket to Africa’s flagship women’s tournament.

Zimbabwe will pin their hopes on the experience of US-based forward Alexandra Maseko who recently graduated from Seton Hall University in the US. The 23-year-old star is expected to team up with fellow internationals such as Sharon Chamwarura, Rachel Makoni, Dorcas Marondera, Charity Chigumba, Natalie Pike, Margaret Magwaro and Sibongile Mkandla for the tournament.

Zimbabwe women’s team has an average age of 24 and is coached by Sikhumbuzo Ndlovu. Basketball Union of Zimbabwe president Addison Chiware told NewsDay Sport that the first game against Mozambique would be tough.

“Obviously the first game against Mozambique is going to be tough. It was the same case for us at the All Africa Games also held in Maputo when we met them in the opening match. However, I’m confident that the team learned a lot since then and will be better prepared this time around.

On the team’s preparations Chiware said: “The senior women will have their continuous assessment camp next week and thereafter the regional camps will be activated to ensure that in between full camps players adhere to workouts as directed by the technical department.”

2013 Afrobasket Women’s Championship Draw
Group A: Mozambique, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Zone I, Egypt, Zimbabwe
Group B: Angola, Mali, Cameroon, Kenya, Cape Verde, Nigeria

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