BOTSWANA : Basketball team to play friendly matches in Zimbabwe

(by Thomas Fink)

The men national team leaves for Harare, Zimbabwe today to play friendly matches as part of preparations for the Africa Basketball Championship qualifiers to be held at the beginning of next year. In Zimbabwe, the Botswana team will play against the senior and Under-20 teams on Saturday. The 12-member Botswana team has been training for the past three weeks at the University of Botswana courts and played the Botswana Under-20 side in a practice match last night.

Botswana Basketball Association (BBA) technical director, Mothusi Thipe said preparations got into full swing on Monday after the conclusion of the league and the National Championships over the weekend. He said the team is ready despite going to camp late. He is happy that most of the players are still fresh from league and cup action. The only thing that can disadvantage us is injuries that players got during the weekends National Championships, he said.

Thipe, Mothusi Phokoje and Ratanang Tsayang might not make the cut if they fail to recover from injuries. Thipe was involved in a freak collision with Spartans team mate, Moelwa Sikwila in their game against Troopers last week Wednesday. The final squad would be decided today based on injury updates from the medical team. The team is expected to arrive in Harare on Friday where it will immediately engage in a training session. It plays the Zimbabwe senior and Under-20 teams on Saturday in successive matches. The squad is expected to be back home on Sunday.

Thipe said the friendly games are part of preparations for the 2011 Africa Basketball Championship qualifiers to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from January 9 to 18. The senior team has had a quiet year with the weekend games being their first international games in 2010. Thipe said Zimbabwe has a fairly developed national squad that should give them competition before the Africa Championships quiliers.

Meanwhile, the women and men Under-20 teams are in camp ahead of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) basketball tournament to be held in Swaziland from December 9 to 18. Other countries expected to participate in the tournament are Africas top-ranked side, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, hosts Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia and Malawi.

Thipe said they are expecting a medal from the mens team. We have assembled a highly competitive side that should be able to hold its own against most of the teams, he said.