Cameroon going to FIBA Afrobasket with humble ambitions
Well, far from the usual lofty plans, Cameroon will come up against the continent’s best in Dakar with one ambition that of improving their previous ranking.
The ‘Lionesses’ currently gearing up in Turkey for the Senegal jamboree have a rejuvenated squad clearly lacking in the experience that’s usually key in such top-notch tournaments. But then changes to the team’s coaching staff and the return of key veterans are why the Camerounians must not be written off.
“We have a young team with a group of inexperienced players and a few veterans. For us, Senegal competition is a learning process. We might be limited by the youthfulness of our side but we think these players can surpass themselves,” said Eric Niat, Vice President Cameroun Basketball Federation
“We will go to the competition with humble ambitions and will take a game after another. We are confident about what we are building and we don’t have huge expectations.
“For us, it’s important to strike the right balance. We are going to learn but if we can learn and win then that will be great for us,” he added.
The ‘Lionesses’ athleticism is undoubtedly their greatest asset. Their game plan in past editions was centered on fast breaks while depending on the individual brilliance of some of the team’s key players for victories
The team is physical and they know how to move the ball around efficiently, picking up intended targets just on time for the right shot.
On a good day, the Cameroonians who play with great passion can be a relish to watch.
Cameroon’s underbelly has been the execution but if they can improve on their shooting as well as their defense in the paint then they’ll be a team to be taken seriously.
Getting to the semi-final will be a true shocker not just for Camerounian diehards but for the players themselves.
The ‘Lionesses’ will be led by experienced coach Natosha Cummings Price, who will be replacing Guy Moudio. Formerly Cameroon’s deputy coach, the 47-year-old has previously trained the women’s team at Erie Community college and is keen on impressing on her debut at the continental competition.
Price has been described as a very strict tactician who loves seeing her teams play eye-catching basketball. She will be assisted by Hamed Njoya and former ‘Lionesses’ coach Italian born Stefano Bizzozi who was the head coach in 2009 before leading Cameroon at the 2016 FIBA Women’s Qualifying Tournament in Nantes, France.
Cameroon has Marie Ange Mfoula to thank for being in Senegal. She averaged 16 points and eight rebounds during the Zone 4 qualifiers and showed tremendous leadership, captaining the team to two wins against the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now aged 27, she has matured into a fine player with elite shooting abilities. If Cameroon has to go past the quarterfinals then Mfoula has to be at the top of her game.
The return of former captain Amina Njonkou will bring experience to Cameroon’s core comprised of young inexperienced players.
The 31-year-old point power forward spurred Cameroon to a historic second-place finish at the 2015 AfroBasket in Yaounde.
Cinthia Mbakop impressed during the Zone 4 qualifiers and it’ll be interesting to see if the 22-year-old power forward who’s on the books of Roane State University basketball team can secure a place in the team’s final roster.
Enguel Ongbagnamen made a case for herself during the qualifiers chipping in 8 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists coming off the bench during the qualifiers. Her passion is infectious and she shows a level of maturity you wouldn’t expect to see in a 21-year-old.
The point guard was phenomenal firing Overdose Yaounde to their first national title and a regional championship. Her zeal for success is glaring and this is the sort of motivation Cameroon coach Cummings will want to see in her team.
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