Kenya’s Wanyama is confident about the odds in the Women’s AfroBasket Qualifiers – FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2021
CORTEGADA (Spain) – Kenya lionesses have what it takes to conquer the fifth zone of Africa and reach the FIBA women’s AfroBasket championship in 2021, according to the national team center Mercy Wanyama.
She remains convinced that Kenya can compete for first place in the qualifiers for Cairo, Egypt from July 5-10 against Egypt, Uganda and debutants South Sudan and book a ticket to the continental show.
She found that the lionesses have a very high chance of actually winning them (zone five) by performing better this time around.
“The job in advance is not easy, but there is a lot possible to conquer our zone and get to the AFROBASKET championship.”
Kenya was beaten to second place by Egypt in the final qualifying tournament in Kampala, Uganda in 2019.
“We’ve all talked about this one opportunity. We have to qualify and make this dream come true,” a confident Wanyama told FIBA.basketball.
“I am very happy that I can be asked to represent the country. It is always such a proud and patriotic moment to wear the national colors.”
Wanyama is one of three players who took part in the Women’s AfroBasket 2019 in Dakar, Senegal, and remains in the squad, which is expected to begin preparations for qualifying soon.
“The task at hand is not an easy one, but it is very possible to conquer our zone and get to the AfroBasket championship. I am sure if we have a proper training camp we will qualify,” she noted.
“We have to take it one game at a time and treat the opponents with respect, but we will carry out our game plan while we scout our opponents.”
The player plays with AD Cortegada, a Spanish division Femenina 2 team.
She said she had a wonderful and learning season at Cortegada and couldn’t wait to tell her teammates what she won at the club when she returns to the country for training.
Wanyama is unsure of what South Sudan will bring on its first foray to the meeting, but acknowledges that its presence as one of the teams participating in the show is good for the region.
In the Kampala qualifiers nearly two years ago, the lionesses reported beating hosts Uganda in front of their noisy fans and beating Rwanda but went against eventual winners Egypt.
But Wanyama believes that this time, if the team prepares properly, they can turn the tables on the Egyptians and lead the Zone. However, this must take a lot of work to be successful.
“We have to approach the games with clinical precision and play them anytime we go on the offensive. At the same time, we have to defend ourselves as if our lives depend on it.”
“We cannot allow Egypt to start on a run that gives them confidence in the game against us,” she said.
Wanyama said she is in constant communication with the association and remains optimistic that her team will have no problem releasing her in case her season doesn’t end.
The 1.85 m long Wanyama, who worked in Spain for two years and started with ABDA currently has a solid performance in the league.
Wanyama was one of the players who played for the lionesses at the team’s last African Championship, where she was named the third best rebounder with an average of nine boards behind the leader Tamara Seda from Mozambique, who led all players with 11.4 rebounds, and Amina Njonkou from Cameroon, who finished with 9.7 rebounds per competition.
She drew 12 boards in Kenya’s 55:39 loss to Mozambique and had eight in another 64:51 loss to Angola.
Kenya finished eleventh at the 12-Team Festival, one less than in 2013 in Maputo.
In the absence of Hilda Luvandwa and Belinda Okoth, two of the players who took care of Kenya’s goal load in Dakar, the forecourt of Wanyama and Velma Owino will be key.