TWO national basketball teams were last night scheduled to leave the country for Maputo, Mozambique, to take part in the Afrobasket championships qualifiers. The championships will get underway tomorrow and end next week Saturday with six countries - Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Seychelles, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the hosts - competing in the men and women's categories.
The men's category will feature Botswana, Seychelles, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique while Zambia, Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe will battle it out in the women's competition.
The men's team coach, Spencer Nyamadzawo, said they were hoping to qualify for the championship.
"The preparations have been going on well despite having been done at a short notice. We were in camp for five days and we would have wanted to train more than that for a tournament of such magnitude.
"I think we stand a great chance of qualifying for the championships. The good part of this (event) is that it comes when our season is on and some of our players have been playing together for the past six or seven years.
"We have got the likes of Taurai Chitsinde who is the captain, Neville Chivangire and Simbarashe Mugombezi teamed up with a couple of youngsters like Tawanda Nemutambwe and Tatenda Maturure.
"We are hoping all the 12 players will do well in the competition," said Nyamadzawo.
However, Nyamadzawo said their biggest threat will come from Mozambique since they are the hosts.
"Mozambique will be of threat to us on the basis that they are the hosts and will be playing in front of the home crowd.
"They have been to these Games before and the last time we played them, Zimbabwe lost by 12 points.
"We would want to go with that background that they beat us before and we want to beat them also," said Nyamadzawo.
Basketball Union of Zimbabwe president, Addison Chiware, said they were expecting both teams to do well but added that the women's team stands a better chance of progressing to the final event.
"There are five men and four women teams.
"The women's team has got the highest probability and for the men they are more or less at that same level but it's a bit tighter.
"We are lucky that it's one of those events that comes when we are in the season and in terms of the level of fitness we are okay.
"We are expecting, at least, the women to qualify," said Chiware.
The top team in each section will progress to the main tournament to be held later this year in Cote d'Ivoire.