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Race for MVP and All-Star Five heats up in Beira
BEIRA (FIBA U16 Women’s African Championship 2017) – As we approach the business end of the FIBA U16 Women's African Championship, several names are on everyone’s lips for the accolades.
For basketball is a statistics game and indeed when one looks closely as the renowned saying goes, “Hard work pays”. So be it, the outstanding players at Africa’s premier youth event will be rewarded at the end of it all.
We take a look at the probable contestants for the utmost individual honor, one that is always unforgettable but truly worthwhile to the bone.
Aissetou Coulibaly - Mali
With an average of 22.3 points, three assists and 2.8 rebounds per game, Coulibaly has stood out with not just her efficiency but also the ability to withstand pressure no matter the opponent and inspire Mali to four straight wins.
Her 27 and 26 points against Mozambique and Zimbabwe respectively went a long way in setting the pace for Mali’s dominance. She has been the highest scorer in all four games so far.
Habiba Elgizawy - Egypt
At 5”7, Elgizawy is not necessarily the tallest player in Beira but her heart is certainly that of a relentless shooting guard that is always looking to lift her team.
With 13.0 points and 3.8 rebounds, the Al Ahly player is but a shining light in Hamed Mohamed’s outfit out to claim the crown from an unstoppable Mali that have won all the past four editions.
Noemia Alexandre Massingue - Mozambique
For a 16-year old, Massingue’s confidence with the ball and ability to bring out the best in her teammates albeit as one of the captain’s roles, she is an absolute pinnacle of inspiration.
At 13.8 points, four rebounds and 2.8 assists on average per game, the Maputo-born teenager has been at the helm of her team’s quest to book a ticket to the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 in Minsk, Belarus.
Conceicao Francisco Caetano - Angola
With 10.3 points and 2.3 rebounds on average, Caetano is Angola’s highest scorer so far and this can be attributed to her consistency and desire to do her best against all odds.
Her 14 points against Mozambique came in handy as she inspired her side to victory in the Lusophone derby.
Maria Mutengo – Zimbabwe
She may not necessarily make it among the All-Star Five Because Zimbabwe are not in the SemiFinals but her 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds positioned Zimbabwe as a competitive team even as debutants at the competition.
Sika Kone - Mali
Standing at 6”0, the Spain-based Sika is the most commanding forward in Beira. Her ability to assess a situation and make the best decision in a split of a second tells of her mental astuteness.
She is quick on her feet but mostly her colossal presence in the paint provides a cushion on both offense and defense for her teammates.
Her 23 points against Egypt in the tournament opener set the pace for Mali and indeed her 36 rebounds have made for impressive affirmation of her supremacy.
Fanta Kone - Mali
Her athleticism is an attribute to reckon with and most notably for a point guard, her vision and control of ball movement on court is an important aspect for head coach Sidiya Oumarou is a perfectionist.
Jana Abdullah - Egypt
With a total of 40 points and 21 rebounds over four games, Abdullah has done well to ensure Egypt are favorites to make it to the Final on Saturday.
Diarrah Sissoko - Mali
As one of the three 14-year olds at the tournament, Sissoko's 11.8 points on average per game is quite a commendable feat and indeed her timely baskets, calculated during the game are of great influence.
Lastly, with two Semi-Finals and a Final to play, perhaps we shall see a few more faces join the fray in the lead up to the premium prize.