By Perkins-Tino Bare.
Harare. (News Of The South) – Zimbabwe men`s basketball team last month qualified for the Afrobasket championships after they beat neighbours and bitter rivals South Africa 66-64 in overtime. The sad thing was that though the qualification was historic for the team not muach has been said ever since.The games which are set to be held in in Tunisia from 19-30 August later this year and the coach will now be looking forward to the the likes of Julian Mavunga and Vitalis Chikoko, who are expected to add depth to his squad as the two based in the USA and Europe, emerge as potential fits to coach Gilbert’s team.
Mozambique and Zimbabwe became the 10th and 11th teams to qualify for AfroBasket 2015 with Zimabwe`s qualification being its first ever , joining hosts Tunisia, reigning champions Angola, Egypt, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Cape Verde, Cameroon and Mali. Two more qualifying places are up for grabs, and another three will be determined through the attribution of wildcard places to complete the 16-team tournament.
Speaking after the win the team`s captain Captain Taurai Chitsinde was delighted with the win. “My team played well. This is our first time to qualify so it is a big achievement for us. We worked hard as a team and hope to do much better since we will be facing more experienced teams,” he said. Zimbabwe had to go through neighbours and bitter rivals to guarantee their place at the prestigious event which is under FIBA but how much do we know exactly about this qualification and what it means to our game of basketball?
Also speaking to southerneye sport Basketball Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Joe Mujuru expressed his satisfaction by the organisation of the games and applauded the schools which took part in supporting Zimbabwe.
“The Bulawayo community’s participation was excellent as they managed to attend most matches and support our teams. I am very grateful to all schools who came to witness the tournament. It clearly shows that basketball is going to grow in the Bulawayo.”
The FIBA Africa Championship is the men’s basketball continental championship of Africa held every two years and this is more like the AFCON of Basketball. There is also the FIBA Africa Clubs Champions Cup is the highest caliber men’s professional basketball competition for clubs, organized by the FIBA Africa and played by the champions of the leagues of the African countries which usually come from Angola being the giants on that particular tournament.
The last event was hosted by Ivory Coast from August 20 to 31 with all games being played in Abidjan.This tourney was won by Angola who defeated Egypt 57-40.
There are variousopportunities up for grabs for our men`s tem as the tournament not only brings together the best of Africa but also serves to qualify teams for participation in the FIBA World Cup which is held every four years with the hosts yet to be confirmed and the Olympic Games which are going to be held in Rio De Janeiro next year.
With this year`s All-Africa Games returning to the Republic of Congo’s capital of Brazzaville. This is also the year that South Africa will become the first-ever African country to host an NBA exhibition game.2015 look set to be a busy year for African basketball and only if we are committed enough to the game then can we make full use of this `festive` period for the game of basketball.
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