Debutants Rwanda had their moment in the limelight as they hit hard against last edition silver medalist, Egypt, 46-37 to launch a bright start to the FIBA U18 Women’s African Championship 2018 which is underway in Mozambican capital city of Maputo.
On Friday night, Rwanda hit hard in the first quarter (16-7), with the Pharaohs returning the blow in the second quarter.
With an eleven-point lead, the junior national team, let go a little bit, as Egypt came back to 7 points by the end of the second quarter, 20-13.
The third quarter saw Egypt work their way through, pushing a mere 12-12, but Rwanda had their hands on the game and did not want to let go, 32-25. Point to be noted: this was the smallest gap of the game.
Rwanda kept the same momentum in the last quarter and did not look back.
Rwanda head coach Charles Mushumba explained that the defensive strategy paid off.
“We applied one on one defense, while insisting at the same time on zone defense. This has worked and we put our opponent in difficulty.”
“We played hard and did our best in the first quarter. We maintained the pace and built our success this way,” he said.
Rwanda’s Bella Murekatete came up with team-bests 13points and 21 rebounds while Egypt’s Maya Abdelfattah poured in game-high 17points in their losing effort.
In the second game of the day, hosts Mozambique dispatched debutants Cape Verde 61-32 to open their campaign.
Mozambique’s trio of Suraya Rijal, Karen Adinane and Filipa Calisto led the floor as the combined for 43points.
Cape Verde’s Joseana Vaz netted game-high 19points but this was not enough to avoid the defeat.
Rwanda will be back in action on Sunday when they take on hosts Mozambique at 6pm while Egypt will face Cape Verde earlier at 15:45.
Group B Action will be held on Saturday with Uganda taking on Angola while defending champions Mali will be up against the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Preliminary Phase of the tournament will be played in a round robin format with each team taking over its opponent respectively.
The second phase will be played in a knockout format from the Quarter-Finals onwards (Semi-Finals and Final).The 3rd Place Game and the Final will be played on the last day of the tournament (August 19).
The winner and the runners-up will secure tickets to next year’s FIBA U19 Women’s World Cup.