Lionesses pumped up for title defense in Kampala with Afrobasket, Africa Games ticket in wait – Capital Sports
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – The Kenya Lionesses will start the defense of their Africa Zone Five Women’s Basketball title on Tuesday in Kampala, Uganda, with their eyes fixated on earning a ticket to a second consecutive FIBA Afrobasket tournament as well as this year’s Africa Games.
The tournament acts as a double qualifier, with only the winner qualifying for both tournaments.
The Lionesses arrived in Kampala on Monday morning, eager to defend the title they won last year in Kigali with victory over giants Egypt.
Head coach George Mayienga has admitted that pressure is there on the team. “It will be a tough tournament because teams have really prepared well and pressure will definitely be on us as the defending champions,” the coach said.
The tournament which runs from Tuesday till Sunday involves defending champions Kenya, hosts Uganda, Egypt, Rwanda and South Sudan.
Coach Mayienga expects tough opposition from all the teams involved and knows they will not be coming to play with their hands tied. “It’s a tall order for us but I know we will manage,” coach Mayienga said.
He adds; “The confidence is there in the team. The players understand what is required of them and we have trained our minds for what we expect.
Skipper Melissa Akinyi, who led the team to the title in Kigali last year is also wary of the pressure on their shoulders.
“There is the saying that becoming number one is easy but remaining there is hard. That is exactly the situation we are faced with but as a team we are confident and we have prepared well for it. Everyone is looking forward to giving their best,” the Equity Hawks shooting guard said.
Team Manager Sylvia Kamau however adds that she has confidence in the team they have selected. “There is pressure definitely but we have a team that will execute the job. We have trained well, though not as well as we should have wanted, but there is no excuse. We will go there and do our best,” she said.
Mayienga and skipper Akinyi say the motivation of qualifying for two tournaments at the same time will act as extra motivation to see them work harder and win their matches.
In the final team named to Kampala, there are three foreign based players named; Victoria Reynolds who was named Most valuable Player in last year’s tournament, Mercy Wanyama as well as Rose Ouma.
The biggest omission from the team however is KPA’s guard Jemimah Omondi who was one of the four players dropped from the final travelling team.
Equity Hawks forward Maryanne Nyagaki made the team for her debut in national colors.
Kenya Lionesses team in Kampala:
Natalie Akinyi, Debra Obungo, Rachel Odhiambo, Melissa Akinyi, Selina Okumu, Christine Akinyi, Maryanne Nyagaki, Madina Okot, Vilma Owino, Rose Ouma, Victoria Reynolds, Mercy Wanyama.