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Catarina, Nacissela and Ngiendula
SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - When most of us thought that Catarina Camufal, Nacissela Mauricio and Ngiendula Filipe were ruled out of all upcoming activities of Angola women's national team, an unprecedented turn of events might give them a chance to play their first and possibly last FIBA World Championship for Women later this summer in Turkey.
All this because of an unclear decision made last month by Anibal Moreira - the team's head coach - who seems to have changed his mind.
Four weeks after omitting Camufal, Filipe and Mauricio from his preliminary squad for the 2014 World Championship for Women, Moreira had a different stance and suggests the players might be part of his immediate plans.
A month ago, both Moreira and the country's Basketball Federation (FAB) justified the trio's omission as part of the revamp and preparation of the team for AfroBasket Women 2015, which will take place in Cameroon.
Although Camufal, Mauricio and Filipe are all over the age of 30, they were crucial in helping Angola win two consecutive African championships, and deliver the country's first Olympic appearance a couple of years ago in London.
FAB argued that revamping the team had to begin sooner rather than later in order to win next year's African Championship and seal Angola's second Olympic appearance in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Nevertheless, the decision to cut a number of players - particularly Mauricio, the MVP of the past two editions of AfroBasket Women, and Camufal who is rated as the most experience playmaker in the country - due their ages, generated heated debates in the basketball loving-nation, with some demanding a public explanation from FAB.
At the time, Mauricio told me she did not know the reason for her omission because she felt she was playing well for her Primeiro D'Agosto club, which had just won a double - the national championship as well as the Angolan Cup.
Although FAB have not confirmed this, media reports in Angola indicated that Mauricio, Camufal and Filipe had been selected for the upcoming training camp, which is due to open in two weeks.
"I know nothing about my future with the national team. As we speak I haven't heard anything from the federation. All I know comes from social media and online media, nothing official," Mauricio told me on Friday.
Surprisingly - or maybe not - the omission of these three players seems to have affected key players like Luisa Tomas, Nadir Manuel, Fineza Eusebio and Sonia Guadalupe who alleged personal reasons to pull out from the Angolan team that played a warm-up tournament in Maputo two weeks ago.
"Let's make it clear," Moreira told me during a phone conversation on Friday. "The preliminary squad that I announced four weeks ago was exclusively for the Maputo tournament. On Thursday (10 July), we will announce the preliminary squad for the World Championship for Women. I can't deny or confirm if those players (Camufal, Mauricio and Filipe) will be part of the group."
To me, this explanation from Moreira can only be translated as the likelihood of Camufal, Mauricio and Filipe being selected, not only in the preliminary squad, but also in the final roster that will square off against Serbia, USA and China in Group B at Turkey 2014.
If Moreira confirms these three players, they will join the original preliminary squad which includes Fineza Eusebio, Ana Goncalves, Helena Zumo, Sonia Guadalupe, Leticia Andre, Rosa Gala, Luisa Tomas Rosemira Daniel, Clarisse Mpaka, Mereciana Fernandes, Nadir Manuel, Helena Viegas, Artemis Afonso, Mafalda Barcelos, and Whitney Miguel.
The African champions will make their FIBA World Championship for Women debut against Serbia on 27 September, before taking on China on Day 2 and closing out its Group D schedule against the defending champions USA.
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