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Sunday, November 19, 2017

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Egypt mans and Kenyan women have secured their places at Afrobasket 2013
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Egypt mans and Kenyan women have secured their places at Afrobasket 2013

After six days of competition in Dar es Salaam, both Kenya and Egypt have secured their places at Afrobasket Women 2013 thanks to successful campaigns in the Africa zone 5 qualifier. A disappointing performance by defending champions Rwanda means they miss out on qualifying for the Afrobasket for the first time since 2005. They had made three consecutive appearances (2007, 2009, 2011).

Meanwhile, in the men’s qualifier, Egypt confirmed their regional dominance as they finished a perfect 5-0. The all-East Africa showdown saw Kenya's women crowned the region champions as they won all three of their games, including a 77-57 trouncing of Uganda in their final contest.

The team’s co-captain, Hilda Hindasi Luvandwa, was named the tournament MVP in Dar es Salaam. The success means Kenya will play at their fourth Afrobasket Women in a row. Luvandwa, also the Kenyan national league MVP, was a giant throughout this qualifier event as she averaged 25 points per game.

If Kenya’s triumph was an eye-catching moment, Egypt’s second place is a major success for the North Africans as it represents their first Afrobasket Women appearance since 2001. Since Egypt's youth teams became a dominant force in the past decade with continental titles in both the U16 and U18 Africa categories, their women’s team is now capitalising on it.

The rising number of Egyptian girls playing college basketball in the United States is without a doubt a positive effect on the national team. Kenya finished unbeaten in three games, but they had to play their best game to beat Egypt 70-64 in the finals.

The women’s competition was played in a round robin format.

The major upset from the Dar es Salaam showdown was clearly Rwanda’s fourth-place finish, especially after suffering an 81-68 defeat to Uganda in the Bronze Medal Game.

The Afrobasket Women 2011 leading scorer Tierra Henderson, one of the few professionals on the Rwandese team, was unable to make a big impact. Burundi finished fifth while hosts Tanzania ended winless.

The win means Kenya and Egypt are representing Africa zone 5 in the upcoming Afrobasket Women, which will be played in Mozambique in August.

Men’s event

In the men’s qualifier, it was business as usual as Egypt maintained their Afrobasket regularity after beating Rwanda 82-76 in the Final.

Egyptians have only missed out on the continental championship once (2005) in the past two decades, and have won a silver (1993) and four bronze medals (1992, 1999, 2001 and 2003).

Just like their women’s team, Rwanda's men missed out on qualifying for the first time since 2007, after three consecutive appearances. But their consolation came from Kenneth Gasana who was named the tournament’s MVP after scoring 23 points, to go with seven assists and six rebounds in the final. Kenya finished third after beating Somalia 72-63.

Underdogs until the start of the Africa zone 5 qualifier event, Somalia turned out to be one of the strongest sides in East Africa. With a squad filled with former US college players, Somalia started their qualifier campaign with a 81-79 upset over favourites Kenya.

The Somalians then went on to beat Burundi 98-80 before they fell short to Rwanda in the Semi-Finals. The disappointment means Somalia will complete three decades without an Afrobasket showing. They last appeared in the tournament in 1983 in Egypt.

The hosts of the qualifier, Tanzania, were denied a win in the tournament, and extended their absence from the Afrobasket. They last played in the continent's leading national team event in 1974.

The overall lessons from the zone 5 indicate the following:

- Rwanda has to review its basketball programmes, especially after dropping most of their professional players;

- Kenya's women’s team has strengthened its regional position;

- Somalia's men’s team showed they can compete on the same level as their regional counterparts, which is quite brilliant for the war-torn country;

- Egypt’s men now have a chance to battle for a podium place at Afrobasket;

- Burundi and Uganda need desperately to make improvement and by hosting their biggest basketball event ever, credit should be given to Tanzania.

By: Júlio Chitunda

FIBA


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