HOOPS! with MWEMBE KAONA
IN a few months to come, the journey towards the reformatted FIBA Basketball World Cup to be hosted by China in 2019 will begin with the qualifiers for the 2017 Afrobasket finals where each sub region of the continental body shall hold events to determine its representatives.
Zambian FIBA referee Mweshi Munatamba posed a question following the recent outing to Bulawayo, where two club sides took part and excelled in the Lakers Invitation tournament, asking what is Zambia doing about it?
Matero Magic (men) and Matero Magic Sparks (Women) along with University of Zambia Honeys and Pacers were in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.
Honeys and Pacers were respectively men and womenâ€™s gold medallists and congratulations to Lubinda â€˜Simsâ€™ Simukwela for winning the Most Valuable Player award for the masculine category.
With regard to the Afrobasket, Munatamba was of the view that with Zambian side showing dominance, the prowess must have aroused concern with our southern neighbours who must be worried that chances of making it to the finals are slim unless as the case was in 2015, when Zambia fails to participate.
It was for the concerns Zimbabwe may have that Munatamba posed the question.
FIBA Africa expects each zone to complete its qualifying series in May next year and countries have been asked to declare interest in terms of hosting the qualifiers.
The position Zambia has taken is not to travel but host the preliminaries and so far only Mozambique has also put in a bid to stage the series which means it will be decided by the decision makers on which way to go.
Whatever the case, preparations will have to start at least by the end of the year and this calls for the appointment of the coaching staff to select and drill the team.
Informally, names are being floated around with the likes of Connell Kandala, Cuthbert Tembo, Obert Shamboko and Paul Mwale tipped to handle the menâ€™s side while the womenâ€™s cause does not have any suggestions.
By the way, this is not an official position but I speak from voices that I hear and interestingly there have been isolated suggestions that the womenâ€™s team should not be entered for the qualifiers because allowing them to would yield no good results!
Some technical experts feel the womenâ€™s national side is not yet ready to challenge for a continental championship.
However, an official announcement will be made soon on the way forward and hopefully by then, the host country or countries would have been named.
In the menâ€™s category, sixteen teams will play in the finals to be hosted by Congo-Brazzaville, where current champions and the host nation are the only ones with automatic berths.
The womenâ€™s category will only have twelve teams with automatic places to the yet to be named host and the current top three – Senegal, Cameroun, Nigeria and Angola and the winners will advance to the 2018 FIBA World Cup for women.
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HOOPS! with MWEMBE KAONA