Afrobasket Women 2009 in Madagascar – 40 Years after, a Chance To Grab it Again?
Madagascar will be the host of the FIBA Africa Championship for Women this year as decided by the Board meeting of FIBA Africa in Cairo, Egypt. Even though football has always been the king sport for Malagasy people, basketball gyms and play grounds has drawn more and more fans during the last years.
The preliminary round will start on October 9, 2009 and the final may be played towards Octber 19. The Palais des Sports et de la Culture and the Mahamasina Gym will receive all the games during the championship. The CUA is now actively fixing the Gym – the lockeroom, the toilets and the court – and said they are done at 75%. It is said to be ready in time. On the other hand, the Palais des Sports doesn’t need much fixing. It has recently been geared with new electronic board.
I had the occasion to see the Women National team play during a test game they had few weeks ago. It was such a delightful experience to watch – surely one of the Malagasy players to have an eye on – Ange (#9 in the photo) play. I know basketball is a team sport but she just does good things on the court. A play-maker point guard that – as for me – has not many flaws. Yes, I’m a big fan. I discovered her during the last Island Games in Madagascar. Among the players to watch during the tournament is also Maiwenn, a sensation of the last JIOI as well. She will be in the team with two other expats. The two guards, Ange and Maiwenn, is an explosive duo but I’m excpecting more from them on this coming Afrobasket women.
It is hard to limit the team at only two players no matter how good they are that’s why each player must not be underestimated. Prisca, for example, will be a lot of help. She is a sharp shooter and can get on fire at any time in the game. Behing the three-point line she will surely be a real threat. A strategy that can pay off if it gets stifly inside. And it will. Malagasy players are quick but we lack size and bulk in the paint and that will obviously hurt. Thus, shoot-outs and fastbreaks will be our main weapons.
It will be interesting to see Madagascar play big nations of basketball such as Mali, the defending champ, Nigeria, Angola or Senegal which are more experienced and used to international competitions. Some of their players are playing out of their homeland in Europe or in the U.S. Let’s say the chances for Madagascar to reach within the top 3 spots are slight. So, any win will be important for the Malagasy team and it will strengthen the motivation and confidence of all the players and the whole nation behind them. The games will be daunting but also a must-take stage if we want to improve to the next level and reach again a rank that once we had (Gold Medal during the 1970 FIBA Championship in Togo).