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AfroBasket Women - Angola look to break from recent AfroBasket Women trend
MAPUTO (AfroBasket Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - There is more at stake at AfroBasket Women 2013 than the two qualifying places for African teams to the FIBA World Championship for Women. The winner of the tournament in Maputo, Mozambique, will change the history of the tournament of the past eight years.
In the past four editions of the African continental championship for Women, all reigning champions have failed to defend their titles.
The focus on the championship now lays on Angola, the defending champions, having won in 2011 in Bamako, Mali.
AfroBasket Women 2013 hosts Mozambique, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and Nigeria are clearly the most likely challengers to dethrone Angola's reign.
For Anibal Moreira's team to retain its title, it must be more consistent and avoiding underestimate opponents like Kenya who gave them some hard time on Day 3 of competition.
"That game is now past, and I'll talk to my players to improve our mindset. They misjudged Kenya for their poor results. But we can't have the same approach against Cameroon" Moreira said at the post-game press conference.
On Monday night, Mali made a clear statement of their intentions on the tournament as they crushed title contender Nigeria 78-45.
For Mali's head coach Jose Ruiz - who won the country's last title in 2007 - the team's short preparation affects its performance somehow, but they are capable of beating any team in the tournament.
The French-Spanish coach explained that despite a 67-64 defeat to Cameroon on Day 2, his players "could do better for the remaining of the tournament."
Although Mozambique remain unbeaten in three games in Group A, their biggest test will happen on Wednesday when they take on 10-time African champions Senegal - who are playing a very solid game with the exuberant contributions from Aya Traore and Astou Traore.
Senegal are known for their physical game, but in Maputo coach Pape Moussa Toure has his team shooting from behind the arc as never before.
Nigeria seem able to be better than they have shown to date. But losing to continental rivals Angola and Mali in Group B, leaves them in a difficult position.
Scott Nnaji's team keeps struggling offensively, even with the inclusion of Joyce Ekworomadu, who only joined the team in Maputo four days later.
Ekworomadu spent 4.5 minutes on the floor, contributing with one point and turned the ball over three times.
Nigeria dropped six places in the Africa rankings, just to see Mali, Senegal and Angola go atop.
Cameroon is the outsider team that keeps causing upsets. On Tuesday, they take on Angola in a highly-anticipated game.
For full and in-depth coverage of AfroBasket Women 2013, go to the official website http://maputo2013.fibaafrica.com.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS