The national U18 ladies basketball team has arrived in Maputo, Mozambique ahead of the 15th FIBA African U-18 Women’s Championships, – scheduled August 10-19.
The 12-player team, under the guidance of head coach Charles Mushumba, left the country on Wednesday morning aboard a Kenya Airways flight for the biennial showpiece that pits the best teams from different FIBA Africa Zones.
Making their first appearance in the tournament, Rwanda booked ticket to the African championship after clinching the FIBA Africa Zone V Qualifiers tournament in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in June.
Mushumba’s side recorded an unbeaten run amassing four wins in a two-legged affair over then holders Uganda and hosts Tanzania.
Speaking to Times Sport in an exclusive interview on Wednesday before takeoff, Mushumba said his side won’t be intimidated in Maputo despite being debutants before insisting that the top priority for him and his ladies is to challenge for the title.
“We never stopped preparing ever since we came back from Dar-es-Salaam, we have been in the league and also played the playoff games. We have prepared ourselves in the best possible way, and we are going out there to challenge for the title,” said Mushumba.
“We cannot underestimate ourselves though we are aware of the history of some countries that we are going to be competing against. I believe I have the a strong group of players that can challenge any opponent right now,” he added.
This year’s edition will be contested by a total of eight teams.
FIBA Africa Zone V is represented by three countries led by Rwanda, joined by Egypt and Uganda, while Zone II will be represented by Mali, Zone V by Cape Verde and DR Congo with Zone VI having Angola as their representatives in the competition.
The seven countries will be joined by the hosts Momzambique.
Among the players that Mushumba travelled with include US based Bella Murekatete, the only player on the team with African championship experience.
She was part of the team that competed at the 2015 FIBA Africa U16 Championship staged in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Murekatete was awarded as the best rebounder and was also a member of the five-player All Star Team of the tournament.
Deborah Iryimanivuze, Hope Butera, Patience Butera, Benigne Uwera Mugisha, Stella Ineza Ndahiro, Faustine Mwizerwa, Joyeuse Sifa Ineza, Bella Murekatete, Chance Mpogazi Uwase, Manishimwe Izadufasha, Noella Mutesi and Clementine Uwimana