Kenya optimistic as FIBA Afrobasket women event picks momentum
A much-improved Kenya women’s national basketball team, Kenya Lionesses, is still hopeful of turning around their fortunes in Kigali, Rwanda to win this year’s FIBA Afrobasket Women’s 2021 Zone 5 title.
Kenya’s hopes and determination were renewed on Wednesday evening after they staged a superb performance against Africa’s heavyweight Egypt in their third and final group match at the Kigali Basketball Arena.
The Mike Opel-coached team started extremely well in the match, taking a comfortable and commanding 35-11 first-quarter lead.
In the second quarter, Lionesses were equally ruthless offensively but a little bit sloppy in defense, allowing Egypt to come back into the game despite hanging on to win the second quarter 35-30, to go into the breather leading 66-41.
After the interval, Egypt returned more offensive as Kenya lost on defence, allowing the Egyptian girls to win the third and fourth quarter’s 31-18 and 35-22 respectively to eventually carry the day with a narrow 107-106 win at full time.
“First, let me say that I am very proud of how we played today (Wednesday).
That shows that we have talents in the team. We started well but along the way, we gave easy baskets especially in the second half.
We also didn’t execute well our press breakers, and that really cost us the game.
We, therefore, need to learn to maintain our lead throughout the entire game,” Kenya Lionesses’ assistant coach Mike Opel said.
The Kenyan girls had started the four-national teams’ qualifiers on a wrong footing, going down to hosts Rwanda 77-45 but grew into the tournament in their subsequent matches, beating newcomers South Sudan 66-41 before bravely losing to Egypt by a half a basket, 107-106 in a nail-biting encounter.