Botswana in tough draw against Swaziland, Mozambique in Afro Basket qualifiers
Botswana’s national basketball team will on the first weekend of February slug it out with Mozambique in the Afro Basket qualifiers. After starting training on 11 December last year, Botswana has promised to put up a brave fight against the 2011 All Africa Games silver medalists.
In an interview with Gazette Sport, national team coach Trynos Moyo said they will not be cowed by the fact that Mozambique players are professionals while Botswana players are amateurs. The Mozambique basketball league is fully professional and its national team has competed in 12 Afro Basket championships. In comparison, Botswana has not competed in any Afro Basket championship as the team has always been eliminated in the qualifiers. Though the odds are stacked against his team, Moyo remains unfazed as he believes Botswana can overcome the fully professional and more experienced Mozambicans.
“Mozambique will be a very strong opposition to us, but we are going to fight,” he said.
Still in Pool B, Botswana will face tough competition from Swaziland whose players ply their trade in the South African professional league. The only professional player in team Botswana is Karabo Geche who plays and studies in China. The return leg of the game between Botswana and Mozambique will be played in Gaborone on the second weekend. Between Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland, the team that tops Pool B will qualify for the Afro Basket finals, slated for Tunisia in July. Moyo works with Troopers coach William Nyangu in team Botswana’s coaching department. Nyangu won the local basketball league title last season while Moyo was runner up.
The two coaches will have a tough time selecting the best 12 out of 23 players who have been called up for training. They explained that players will be selected strictly on merit, adding that they will use a rotational method to select the best performing team. BBA has given the two coaches strict instructions to rebuild the national team, which could explain the inclusion of many youngsters and exclusion of the old brigade. The coaches explained that BBA has a four year plan to build a strong national team. Veterans Ratanang Tsayang of Troopers and Mothusi Thipe of Spartans have retired from the national team and will be replaced by young blood.