Ricky Zililo Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE senior men and women’s national teams arrived in Bulawayo yesterday for their final Afro-Basketball and All-Africa qualifiers camp.The two squads are housed at Hillside Teachers’ College.
Six countries — Zimbabwe, South Africa, Seychelles, Zambia, Botswana and Angola will participate in the joint qualifiers for the men and women from February 21-28 at the ZITF.
The top team in each category will earn a slot for the Afro-basketball championships to be co-hosted by Tunisia and Cameroon while the All-Africa Games will be held in Congo-Brazzaville later this year.
Basketball Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Joe Mujuru said they were expecting foreign-based players in camp yesterday evening.
“From the communication that we got, the foreign- based players are on their way and everyone is ready for the tournament. The players are in good spirits and we have also covered the groundwork as an association to make sure that we stage a memorable tournament,” said Mujuru.
Yowana Nyangu is the only foreign player in the women’s squad while the men’s team has Germany based Vitalis Chikoko, Allan Zimbagu who is plying his trade in the United States and the South Africa-based trio of Sternard Mapurisa, Julian Mavhunga and Simba Mhukahuru.
The foreign-based players are expected to lead Zimbabwe’s campaign with the men’s category bracing up for a stern test from South Africa who are their biggest threat.
Angola’s men’s team, by virtue of being defending champions, have qualified for the Afro-Basketball finals and are targeting the All-Africa Games.
In the women’s category, Zimbabwe are favourites to make it for both finals having been to the last edition of the All-Africa Games which were held in Mozambique as well as the Afro-Basketball.
Meanwhile, Mujuru said they are expecting teams to confirm their arrival today.
“South Africa sent an official last week to come and check our state of preparedness for the tournament and they were impressed with the groundwork that we have covered. Tomorrow (today) we should know when all the teams will be arriving. Our Games’ Village will be Rainbow Hotel and that is where all the countries will be staying,” Mujuru said.
Men: Tawanda Chitsinde, Taurai Chitsinde, Tatenda Maturure, Duncan Shenje (Cameo), Nyasha Ngove, William Muchuchuti (Southern Mavericks), Benjamin Jani, Billy Melusi, Andrew Gonese, Neville Chivhanganye, Simbarashe Mungomezi (JBC), Vitalis Chikoko (Germany), Sternard Mapurisa (Cape Town, South Africa), Julian Mavhunga (Pretoria, South Africa), Allan Zimbangu (USA), Innocent Sithole (Mercenaries), Evaristo Pasipanodya, Simba Mhukahuru (South Africa), Tatenda Tswatswa (Unicorns)
Coach: Chewy Gilbert
Women: Melisa Majonga, Sharon Chamwarura (both Southern Mavericks), Geraldine Chiponda, Pretty Tinarwo (Lakers), Rumbidzai Dliwayo, Margaret Magwaro, Rachel Makoni, Charity Mukukuti, Kanyimo Margaret, Charity Chigumba (Vixens), Patience Chinhoyi (Real Returns), Yowana Nyangu (Wits University), Serina Chareka, Dorcas Marondera (JBC), Isabel Ngweni (FML)
Coach: Laddy Munetsi