Women’s basketball heats up

Rosine "Cisse" Micomyza drives to the basket. Photo Credit: Basketball Federation of Tanzania

Women’s basketball continues to beat attendance records, drawing historically high numbers to the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Australia. Game activity on the continent heated up in the end-year period.

by Silalei Shani, bird story agency

Women’s basketball continues to draw in historic viewership across the globe, with the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Sydney confirmed as having had the highest attendance in the history of the competition with 145,519 fans attending throughout the competition.

Mali was the only African country to represent the continent, qualifying after African champions Nigeria pulled out citing administrative difficulties around the sport in their country.

Mali joined Group B alongside Australia, Canada, Serbia, France, and Japan. It was a dramatic outing for Mali, having lost all their games in the group stage and then having to deal with a very visible internal team conflict.

After an 81-68 loss to Serbia – their fourth straight defeat at the tournament – a scuffle broke out between Salimatou Kourouma and Kamite Elisabeth Dabou as Serbia’s Sasa Cado was being interviewed in the mixed zone.

“FIBA acknowledged today that there was an altercation between Mali players in the mixed zone following the Group B game Serbia-Mali at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022,” the association said in a statement.

The following day after a 88-65 loss to Canada, the 2 junior players expressed regret about their actions,

“We were frustrated because of the loss so we are here to apologize to the world basketball, FIBA, the World Cup….we’re here to apologize for the image that was put on social media,” the pair announced.

FIBA may still choose to impose sanctions.

“Following the incident, FIBA has opened an investigation. Once the investigation is concluded, FIBA will decide on any applicable disciplinary measures” the basketball association announced.

Mali’s Sika Kone did leave her mark on the international stage, however, leading the tournament in rebounds. She averaged 11.8 rebounds per game

Back on the African continent, FIBA’s Zone 5 top women’s club teams came together in Dar Es Salam, Tanzania for the annual Zone 5 Club Championship Games. In the best outing that the region has seen since the pandemic, 9 teams confirmed entry, including Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia and newcomers, South Sudan.

The six-day championship came to an exciting head in the finals as the defending champions, Kenya Ports Authority (Kenya) faced a young and dynamic, Alexandria Sporting Club (Egypt).

KPA had earlier defeated APR (Rwanda) 61-39 in the semifinals while Alexandria edged out REG (Rwanda) 49-45 to advance to the final matchup.

In a closely-contested game, the Egyptian side managed to maintain a lead against KPA throughout the 4th quarter, leading to a 78-67 victory. Both teams qualified for the Africa Women’s Champions Cup 2022 to be played in Maputo, Mozambique in December, following a two-year hiatus.

OverDose Up Station of Cameroon and CNSS of the Democratic Republic of Congo from Zone 4 have also secured their slots in the Champions Cup, following a week of basketball action in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Head coach of Up Station, Roger Dassi Achi, helped the young Cameroonian team to a landslide victory against Universite de Douala before a narrow win over CNSS (85-84) the following day. The champions were led by veteran local star, Cerine Ngukpoug, who ended the final game with 17 points and 11 rebounds. CNSS’S Deborah Mayimona led the game in scoring, with a staggering 36 points.

BAL qualifiers Game between Nueva Era (Blue) and Espoir. Photo: FIBA

In men’s basketball, the journey to the 2023 BAL (Basketball Africa League) has also kicked off, with Group B qualifiers taking place in Yaounde, Cameroon from October 11- 16. 4 teams from Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea fought to participate in Africa’s top professional basketball club league.

Nueva Era Basketball Club secured Group B’s last ticket for the Elite 16 round after beating Espoir Basket 66-64, despite losing to Bangui Sporting Club. Bangui’s victory against Nueva Era (69-60) saw them become the first team to qualify for the next stage of West Division matches. Team captain Max Kougere led the Central African side with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Group C qualifiers will take place later this month in Dar Es Salam, Tanzania.

bird story agency.