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August 2019
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Ambitious Cape Verde hoping to make some noise at #AfroBasketWomen 2019

PRAIA (Cape Verde) - Cape Verde may still be celebrating their return to the FIBA Women's AfroBasket after missing the last two editions of the Championship, but they head to Dakar hoping to win games and become a regular participant.

Six years ago, in Maputo, the islanders experienced ups and downs against title contenders, Nigeria, Mali, Cameroon and eventual champions Angola, but beating Kenya and Algeria left them with a sense of unfinished business.

They believed that they could have done a lot better than that, however, after missing the following two  African Championships in Yaounde (2015) and Bamako (2017) Cape Verde players, coaching staff and officials regrouped in time to qualify to the 12-team showpiece. As they like to say, "We want to compete more regularly against the best in Africa."   

FIBA World Ranking:  No. 14 in Africa (70th in the World)

Goal: Although the second lowest ranked team (above Kenya) in the entire competition, Cape Verde will look to advance to the Second Round of the competition, and try to improve from their ninth-place finish in Maputo six years ago. 

Latest results: Despite a 50-48 loss against Guinea in the first game of the two-game series Zone 2 Qualifier against Guinea last May, Cape Verde faced a do-or-die situation. They rose to the occasion beating Guinea 60-48 in Game 2 to win the series 108-98 on aggregate.

Quote - Cape Verde head coach Antonio Moreira 'Zola': "Facing Mozambique and Kenya in the Group Phase will be tough for us. Mozambique is one of the title contenders in the championship. As for Kenya, we have played them before and we shared one win apiece in Maputo. It will also be a tough game, but we are going to take one game at a time because we are going to Dakar not only to make up numbers, but because we want to win games. We have high ambitious and we want to become a reference and a respected team in African basketball. We qualified to the African Championship by our own merit, and we will do everything in our power to go further in the competition.  

"Cape Verde has missed the last two African Championships not because of the quality of our players. Now we want to go as far as possible," Moreira noted.

Play  style: Far from being the tallest team in the competition, Cape Verde relies on fast-breaks and long-range shootings. With 1.93m (6ft2in) Djenifer Monteiro (Cape Verde's tallest player) reportedly unavailable for the tournament, the islander might struggle in the paint against taller opposition. 

Lorreta Rocha (Cape Verde)

Cape Verde usually play aggressive one-on-one defense, using constants switching with Lorreta Rocha described as their prime defenders. 

How can they shock the continent? Everything Cape Verde dream of is to start the tournament with a win over Kenya. If they do that, it will boost the team's morale for the remainder of the competition. And of course, their ambition of improving from a ninth-place finish becomes closer.

Head coach: Antonio Moreira is a former Cape Verde international who was a member of his country's golden generation who clinched a Third-Place at FIBA AfroBasket 2007 in Angola. 

Based in the USA, where he scouts and recruits a number of players of Cape Verde descent, the 43-year-old has been in charge of Cape Verde's team since 2012.

Key player (s): "We are a team without a star player. We play as a team from start to finish" Coach Moreira once said. 

Despite Moreira's views, it's fair to affirm that Alexia Barros has been crucial, Jade Leitao's experience always make a difference and Ornela Livramento can change the game for good at any given night.

Rising Star(s): At 19 years of age, Joseana Vaz is Cape Verde's most prominent rising star. Aggressive defensive and offensively, Vaz played a huge role to help her country in the Qualifiers. 

Joseana Vaz (Cape Verde)

Overview: A basketball-loving country, Cape Verde's low ranking doesn't necessarily do justice to them, considering how talented they are. The 2019 African Championship in Dakar may become a turning-point in their recent history.