21 November 2012

EGYPT : The hope of Egypt women’s team

SHEFFIELD (Júlio Chitunda’s African Message) – Most basketball leagues seasons around the world have just started, and it is difficult to predict the outcome.
But for US colleges recruiting Egyptian girls as never before, it is a major success for the North African country.
The last three years have become extremely promising for Egypt women’s basketball.
Not only because their youth teams have established as a potential force in Africa following two U16 African silver medals (2009 and 2011), and one gold medal (2010) plus a bronze (2012) in U18, but because they seem to be seeking higher goals.
Never before have Egypt had as many young girls playing at USA colleges as they currently have.
Since their world exposure at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship, in Chile, three players have crossed the Atlantic to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Reem Moussa is a sophomore with Rice University, while Hala Elshaarawy is a freshman Saint Peter’s - both Division 1 colleges - and Dina Ragab is in her first season with Division 2 New York Institute of Technology (NYIT).
Many more expect to follow the way, I am told.
At the FIBA U19 worlds in Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, Hagar Amer finished as the event's second leading with 19.2 points per game behind Brazil's Damiris Dantas, the MVP of the showdown.
Amer had such a great tournament, that she recorded two double-doubles, a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds in 73-94 defeat to Argentina and 22 points and 11 rebounds in 76-54 loss to Italy.

Alongside Amer, her teammate Elshaarawy averaged two block shots per game, more than any other player in the tournament. Despite this, Egypt lost all four of their games, finishing second last, just above Nigeria, who had withdrawn from the tournament.
As it has been 11 years since Egypt women’s national team last played an Afrobasket, this new generation of players is bearing the country’s flag internationally.
Beside those young players, Egypt’s women’s team may in a near future include both Soraia Deghady and Ola El Temsahi, a duo that made tremendous contribution at the 2012 U18 Afrobasket in Dakar this past September.
The 17-year-old Deghady is one of the best youth point guards on the African continent.
She was named the 2011 U16 Afrobasket MVP, and more recently was selected to this year's U18 Afrobasket All-Tournament Team alongside Senegal's Yacine Diop, the Malian duo of Mariam Kone and Aminata Traore, and Tunisia's Hamrouni Houda.
I caught up with Deghady to find out more about her basketball goals.
A quick thinking player with great ability to lead, Deghady likes shooting and reading her “opponents’ movements,” she told me, before pointing out that the secret of Egypt's youth national teams is based on spirit of sacrifice to each other.

“We are all friends,” she said.
However, Egypt’s ambition to win their consecutive U18 Afrobasket title fell short to Mali after a 69-54 in the Semi-Final, last September.
Deghady – who is fluent in English, Arabic – remains upbeat: “Youth international tournaments are great for us because we get more experienced and we learn a lot.”
And the secondary school student is aiming to play college basketball because she wants “to improve” her game and “play at high level.”
Meanwhile, Egypt U18 head coach Haysam Eid is even more confident about his country’s basketball future based on the new generation of players.
“Soraia is a clever player as she is able to handle the game the way I ask her to,” he said.
“She is not a tall player, but she has good vision, ability to penetrate to the basket as well as great ability to assist and she is a natural leader.
“All she needs to do to help our country is keeping working the way she has been doing so far.”
Egypt women’s team finished seventh at the 10-team 2001 Afrobasket, held in Tunisia. They registered wins over Niger (100-54) and Ivory Coast (80-76), but then lost to DR Congo (94-79), Angola (80-72) and Tunisia (73-68).
With so much talent at their disposal, and if all goes as planned, Egypt may soon find a new chapter in their women’s basketball history.
Júlio Chitunda

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