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Moreira aims to close the competitive gap

MADRID (FIBA World Championship for Women) - The world stage is no longer an unfamiliar territory for the Angolan national team, which will make their World Championship for Women debut in Istanbul.

By the time the African champions open their Turkey 2014 Group D campaign they would have played a number of warm-up games against France, Brazil, Japan, Serbia and Spain.

Nevertheless, the team's head coach Anibal Moreira insists that winning games in the World Championship is going to be very difficult, although they believe they can do better than their winless run during the preparations.

"We hope to play good games against Serbia and China in the Turkey, but I can’t say the same about facing the US because the big difference between our teams," he said.

The fact that the USA are playing without some of their finest stars such as Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings - who withdrew through injury - makes things easier for Moreira.

"Of course we would like to play against the best players in the world.

"It makes little difference to us because some other players might step up. Perhaps their absence may benefit title contender teams, but not us," the former Olympian said. 

The Angolans will arrive in Istanbul with only half of the team that won their second consecutive AfroBasket Women last summer in Maputo, Mozambique.

Astrida Vicente, Clarisse Mpaka, Whitney Miguel, Madalena Felix, Felizarda Jorge and Catarina Camufal are sitting out for different reasons, while a number of promising stars like Rosa Gala, Helena Viegas and Artemis Afonso are to make their debut with the senior team.

Although Moreira acknowledges the Africans have a lot of challenges to face in Turkey, there is only one thing in back of his mind: The prospect of closing the competitive gap between some of these teams.

"The Olympic Games (two years ago) was an eye-opening experience to us," he says.

"We knew little about the competitive level of most teams. 

"Now, in the World Championship, we know what to expect because my players are getting accustomed to play at this level.

"We need to increase the number of practicing hours for these players. 

"It should be great if we could make them shoot more than five hundred jump shots per training session, but most of them have their own jobs and others are students."

And the reason Moreira is so keen to improve his team’s shooting comes from their poor offensive performance at the London Games.

He explained that they have attempted as many shots as their opponents nevertheless the rate success was visibly different. 

"In Angola we don’t have as much quality of players as we would love to because of the circumstances of the basketball. The new players are bringing some quality, but it will take time, that’s why we are giving them a chance to play against the best."

Angola squad for FIBA World Championship for Women: Ana Gonçalves, Fineza Eusébio, Luísa Tomás, Nacissela Maurício, Rosa Gala, Sónia Guadalupe, Angelina Golome, Elsa Eduardo, Nadir Manuel, Ngiendula Filipe, Helena Viega and Artemís Afonso.