Basketball

Kenya Lionesses stun Cape Verde at FIBA Afrobasket

The national women’s basketball team, the Kenya Lionesses, beat Cape Verde 61-58 in their second game at the FIBA Afrobasket in Yaounde, Cameroon on Sunday to boost hopes of finishing second in Group A.

The Kenyan girls had began their campaign with a loss to home girls Cameroon, but bounced back to beat Cape Verde and move temporarily top of the group. The Lionesses now hope that Cameroon beats Cape Verde in their last group game for them to finish second.

A second spot finish for Jacob Opel’s girls will earn them a round of 16 duel against Mozambique who finished third in Group B.

Against Cape Verde, the Kenyan girls won the game in the last 55seconds, to ensure they picked their first victory of the competition.

Coach Opel was ecstatic after the victory. “This game was all about motivating the girls and trying to get them into the right mentality. We worked hard as a team and got a good result. We tried to improve on some of the areas that we were not doing well against Cameroon. Though we still have a lot to do, there was some improvement,” said the tactician.

Star forward Victoria Reynolds said; “We knew we had to bounce back from the opening day loss and we worked hard as a team. We corrected some of the mistakes that we had against Cameroon and we played better.”

The USA-based Reynolds was Kenya’s best player in the game, picking 17 points, five rebounds and five assists while Christine Akinyi who came up big in the fourth quarter contributed to 14 points and five rebounds.

Kenya earned 38 points in the paint but will be worried about their turnover having given out 23 points from this scenario. In the game, the Lionesses had 34 defensive rebounds and 14 offensive rebounds, a count that coach Opel says is still low and should be worked on.

The Kenyan girls had started the game well and led 16-12 in the first quarter. However, a series of mistakes in rebounding saw Cape Verde stage a comeback to lead 33-28 at half time.

At the end of the third quarter, The Lionesses had squeezed the game to a three-point gap to tally at 43-46.

With under two minutes left to play, Kenya were trailing 54-56 before Mercy Wanyama was fouled and swung in both her free throws to tie the game at 56-ups. However, Cape Verde went back to the lead with Ornela Livramento’s lay up adding a further two points.

With 55secs left on the clock, the Lionesses put up the pressure and Christine Akinyi levelled the scores at 58-58, making up for a tense finish to the hotly contested tie.

The Lionesses were handed an opportunity to take the lead with 42secs left after two free throws were awarded to Selina Okumu. She swung in one of the attempts while the other bounced off the rim.

The Kenyan girls kept the fight with the half a basket lead. With 32secs left, Christine Akinyi took Kenya’s tally to a three point gap with a well taken jump shot inside the arc off Natalie Akinyi’s bounce pass.

Christine should have added to her point haul when she drew a foul on Livramento but missed her attempt. The Cape Verde girls pushed in the fight to make up the three-point gap. But, it was Kenya who were playing the more smart way to guard the victory.

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