IN DAR ES SALAAM
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) women basketball team coach Mike Opel is optimistic of reclaiming Fiba Africa Zone Five Club Championship title in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
KPA, who lost the title to rivals Equity Bank last year, are in Group ‘A’ which also has JKL Dolphine from Uganda and hosts Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa (JKT).
On the other hand, defending champions Equity Bank are in Group ‘B’ with Let Gazzels from Burundi, APR from Rwanda and Tanzania’s Don Bosco.
Speaking after the team’s final training session at Dar es Salaam indoor courts on Sunday, Opel said he is spoilt for choice ahead of the tournament’s tip-off on Monday.
“I have a very young, strong and talented squad. It’s now my responsibility to ensure that I rotate them well so that they remain fresh throughout the championship,” said Opel who will be banking on the experienced Hilda Indasi, Seline Okumu and Natalie Akinyi.
Also in the squad is US-based Taudencia Katumbi, Congolese import Betty Kalanga, Burundian point guard Cynthia Irankunda, captain Brenda Angeshi, Rachael Wandago, Beryl Milungo and Donasana Obonyo.
KPA face JKL Dolphine of Uganda in their opener on Tuesday and Opel insists every game will count in this championship that has attracted nine teams.
“We are not undermining any of our opponents because each team will be fighting for the two available slots for the final tour in Madagascar later in the year. We will give it our best shot,” assured Opel, himself a former Kenyan international.
Meanwhile, Equity Bank open their title defence against Gazzels on Monday 4pm before Don Bosco take on APR at 6pm. The last game of the day between JKT and JKL Dolphine has been planned for 8pm.
Eight teams had arrived in Dar es Salaam by Sunday among them KPA and Equity Bank from Kenya, JKL Dolphine from Uganda, Rwanda Patriotic Army (APR), Don Bosco and Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa.
Equity Bank v Gazzels – 4pm
Don Bosco v APR – 6pm
JKT v JKL Dolphine – 8pm