ZIMBABWE national basketball team coach Innocent Sithole believes they are in good shape to fight for a place at the AfroBasket championships as they make their last attempt this weekend in Bamako, Mali.
After missing two opportunities, an automatic qualification during the regional qualifiers against Mozambique and a defeat to South Africa in the play-offs, Zimbabwe now face Chad and the Central African Republic in an additional qualifier to replace Congo-Brazzaville who pulled out.
The team was expected to leave for Mali last night, for the event which starts tomorrow until Sunday. "We have prepared for the games in Mali and we are definitely hoping to qualify for AfroBasket.
"I think the Mozambique and South Africa games, the ones that we lost, basically gave us preparation for this. And I think we know what we need to do and we have been working as well. "I think fitness-wise we are a bit better.
"The South Africa game, we had a very good game (but) we didn't finish off the game, we played the game very well. But our finishing, our fourth quarters were very bad, so we have worked more on that, on trying to maintain our fitness so that at least we can play the whole four quarters of the game at the same level," Sithole said.
Cape Verde, who were also scheduled to be part of the weekend's games, pulled out leaving Zimbabwe, Chad and Central African Republic and Congo-Brazzaville to compete for the last slot to the African competition.
"We had done some scouting on Central African Republic and Cape Verde and fortunately Cape Verde pulled out, they were going to be a tricky customer for us.
"On Chad it's basically an unknown team, but they had close games against Cameroon in their qualifiers, so they will be tricky as well. "I think the guys are highly motivated. I think they actually appreciate now that this is actually a third chance that we have got.
"So, basically, I think the heavens are looking down on us, so the guys are highly motivated that, at least, we have got the heavens on our side, they have given us enough chances now," said Sithole. The African basketball showpiece will be held in Angola later this year.
Team Taurai Chitsinde, Tawanda Chitsinde, Simbarashe Mungomezi, Tatenda Maturure, Evaristo Pasipamire, Neville Chivhanganye, Warren Tegama, Nathan Warikandwa, Noah Pendukah, Dumisani Moyo, Tinotenda Mugabe, Shonhiwa Ushe.
Coach: Innocent Sithole
Team manager: Andrew Chitauro