13 March 2013

SEYCHELLES : AfroBasket 2013 - Fiba Africa denies Seychelles AfroBasket appearance

Fiba Africa has denied Seychelles an opportunity to feature at the 27th men’s African Basketball Nations Championship (AfroBasket) 2013 by handing out the two wildcards to Mali and Rwanda.
According to reports, Rwanda finished second behind Egypt in the zone 5 qualifiers, while Mali were placed third in zone 2. Other possibilities for a wildcard would have been Togo (zone 3) and Zambia (zone 6).
Seychelles Basketball Federation (SBF) chairperson Sheila Ah-kong is very furious and disappointed with the decision.
“It’s an unbelievable decision. Fiba Africa has denied Seychelles an opportunity to showcase its capacity as a developing basketball nation in Africa. By August, we would have been able to put together a much stronger team than the one who competed in the zone 6 qualifiers in Mozambique,” Mrs Ah-kong told Sports Nation.
“It’s just frustrating as we had so much hope of making it to the finals in Ivory Coast,” she added.
The 16 teams who will compete in the Afro-Basket 2013 finals in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from August 20-31 are: Ivory Coast (hosts), Tunisia (defending champions 2011), Angola (runners-up 2011), Nigeria (third place 2011), Morocco (qualifier zone 1), Algeria (qualifier zone 1), Senegal (qualifier zone 2), Cap Verde (qualifier zone 2), Burkina Faso (qualifier zone 3), Central African Republic (qualifier zone 4), Cameroon (qualifier zone 4), Congo (qualifier zone 4), Egypt (qualifier zone 5), Mozambique (qualifier zone 6), Rwanda (wildcard) and Mali (wildcard).
Zone 7, which includes Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Djibouti, is not represented in the 16-team tournament.
This is a shame on African basketball as Fiba Africa is divided into seven zones and it was decided even before the start of the qualifiers how many teams would qualify from each zone. Zone 7 was to send one representative to the championship.
Seychelles was to host the zone 7 qualifiers but the other zone 7 countries – Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Djibouti – did not show an interest in taking part.
When all members of the local basketball family thought Seychelles would receive automatic qualification from zone 7 to take part in the AfroBasket final stage as previously said, the Seychelles men’s team were asked, instead, to take part in the zone 6 qualifiers at the request of Fiba-Africa.
Seychelles only finished fourth in the zone 6 qualifiers won by host country Mozambique. The country’s team lost the bronze medal match on a 38-62 score against Botswana – the same opponents they had beaten 71-68 in their second league game.
The Seychelles team also lost 52-76 to Zambia in their opening game and 39-71 to hosts Mozambique to finish the league phase in third position with just one win and two defeats in three games. In the semifinal, they lost 52-64 to Zambia.
Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho, and South Africa were to take part in the zone 6 qualifiers but did not.
Another point of confusion is that on the Fiba Africa website – www.fibaafrica.com – Rwanda Basketball Federation secretary general Richard Mutabazi was quoted as saying his country would be given a wildcard after losing the zone 5 final 76-82 to Egypt.
Mr Mutabazi was quoted in the article entitled ‘Rwanda gets wildcard to Africa Cup finals’ and which was posted on the Fiba Africa website on January 29, 2013.
"Fiba Africa has given us (Rwanda) a wildcard to compete in the Africa Cup despite missing out the spot in the final," he said.
Mr Mutabazi even confirmed in the same article that they were waiting for the official communication from Fiba Africa boss Eng. Morris Aluanga.
The same article appeared in The New Times Rwanda and at http://www.umupira.com.

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