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Cape Verde target first Women's AfroBasket appearance since 2013
PRAIA (Cape Verde) - Cape Verde on Monday opened a training camp for this week's FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2019 Zone 2 Qualifiers against Guinea.
Head coach Antonio Moreira called up an experienced 12-player team for the two-game series in a bid to return to the FIBA Women's AfroBasket for the first time since 2013.
Jade Leitao, Ornela Livramento, Djenifer Veiga, Aylin Pires, Lorreta Rocha and Juvelina Bento - all helped the islanders claim a 2-5 record and a ninth-place at FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2013 in Mozambique - and will now try to qualify for the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2019.
The sextet are joined by 19-year-old Joseana Vaz, who led her country with team-highs 20 points and 12 rebounds at FIBA U18 Women's African Championship 2018.
Joseana Vaz (Cape Verde)
The first encounter between Cape Verde and Guinea will take place at Vava Duarte Gymnasium in the capital Praia on Friday May 17th, while the second contest will be held two days later at the same venue.
"This means a lot for women's basketball in Cape Verde. I don't even remember when was the last Cape Verde hosted an international competition," Cape Verde head coach Moreira said to FIBA.basketball.
After missing out on qualification for the last two editions of the African Championship, Moreira who has been at the helm since 2013, describe this week's games as "the start of the new era for our women's national team.
"Obviously, we hope to have a great showing in front of our fans, and more importantly, we'll try to win the two games and qualify for the African Championship," the former Cape Verde international offered, adding: "Even though we last played in the African Championship six years ago, we have never stopped, we always kept our intentions of returning to the elite of African basketball.
"This also means the rebirth of our team. After our first-ever participation at FIBA U18 Women's Africa Championship 2018, this is a special moment of our basketball program."
Moreira went on to explain how his team is gearing up for the two-game series: "We had our first practice here in Praia on Monday. It was a fruitful training session, and my players look highly-motivated. And I must add that over the last two years, we haven't stopped practicing in the USA, where some of your players and I reside. We have twelve training sessions scheduled until the games. So far, everything is running according to plan."
Jade Leitao led Cape Verde in scoring with 14 points per game at FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2013
Asked to shed light on Cape Verde's opponents, Moreira noted: "Guinea is a strong opponent. As a coach I have followed and scouted the Guinean team's games at the last two African Championships, especially because they are one of our opponents in the African Zone 2. Like Cape Verde, Guinea also aims to become a major player in the African basketball scene."