Italee Lucas headlines Angola's preliminary squad
LUANDA (AfroBasket Women 2015) - Italee Lucas became the second USA-born basketball player to acquire Angolan citizenship - after Reggie Moore - in the last two years, and is now likely to represent her new country at AfroBasket Women 2015.
Lucas and Marinela Pinheiro Muxiri are the only new faces in Angola's 15-player preliminary squad announced on Tuesday by newly-appointed head coach Jaime Covilha.
Covilha - who replaced Anibal Moreira at the helm of Africa's reigning continental champions - kept most of the team that competed at the 2014 FIBA Women's World Championship with the exception of Elsa Eduardo.
On Wednesday, Angola open their training camp in Luanda for AfroBasket Women 2015, which will be held in Yaounde, Cameroon, from 24 September-3 October.
With veteran Catarina Camufal struggling to round into shape following her maternity leave, the selection of Lucas - who was selected with the 21st pick by the Tulsa Shock in the 2011 WNBA Draft - bolsters the Angolans at the point guard position.
After all, the 1.75m point guard has become a household name in African basketball scene, especially after leading her InterClube de Luanda to the title at the last two editions of the African Champions Cup for Women (ACCW).
Congrats to Italee Lucas, 2014 FIBA African Champions Cup For Women. pic.twitter.com/2e6JtxPnsl— Coach W-Johnson (@CoachTWJ) December 3, 2014
The former University of North Carolina standout has been living and playing in Angola over the last three years.
Last December, she hit a mid-range jumper followed by a pair of free-throws in the closing seconds of the ACCW Final in Sfax, Tunisia, to help InterClube beat archival Primeiro D'Agosto 75-74 to clinch their latest continental title.
Lucas who claimed the MVP award at the 2013 ACCW, is no stranger to international competition.
Back in 2007, she helped the USA win the FIBA U19 Women's World Championship Women in the Slovak Republic.
In September they will aim to make it three continental titles in a row but will need to pass Group B's test against Senegal, Algeria, Nigeria, Guinea and a team to be determined through the wild card process.
The winner of AfroBasket Women 2015 will secure the only place available for African teams for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The teams that come in second and third will get a second chance to qualify for the Rio Games by competing in the 12-team FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT).
Angola preliminary squad for AfroBasket Women 2015: Artemis Afonso, Fineza Eusebio, Isabel Francisco, Ngiendula Filipe, Rosa Gala, Angelina Golome, Ana Goncalves, Sonia Guadalupe, Felizarda Jorge, Italee Lucas, Nadir Manuel, Nacissela Mauricio, Marinela Muxiri, Luisa Tomas and Helena Viegas.