ZIMBABWE men’s team kept their chances of qualifying for the Afro-Basket Championships to be co-hosted by Cameroon and Tunisia later in the year alive when they beat the Seychelles 63-52 in the ongoing Afro-Basket and All-Africa Games qualifiers at the Zimbabwe Internation Trade Fair yesterday.
The hosts still have a chance of qualifying for the Afro-Basket Championships, but face stiff competition South Africa, who were due to play Angola last night.
Zimbabwe men’s team coach Chewie Gilbert was ecstatic after registering his second victory of the tournament.
“I have no words. This is the second victory for me and the boys. We feel so great,” he said.
“I hope we continue doing the same thing on Saturday when we play South Africa. That will decide whether we qualify or not. If the boys play the same way they have played in the past couple of games, I am sure we can qualify.”
Zimbabwe started on the offensive, but failed to convert free-throws that came their way which resulted in the first quarter ending in a 14-14 stalemate.
“Sometimes when you play so much basketball in a week there is strain on the muscles and body fatigue. I tell the guys that their minds must always be set,” he said.
The second quarter ended with Zimbabwe leading 24-22 while the third quarter ended with the hosts narrowly leading 42-41.
Zimbabwe player Tawanda Chitsinde was in exceptional form scoring six three-pointers out of nine ending the match as the top scorer with 22 points while Tatenda Maturure grabbed 12 points.
Chitsinde said beating South Africa on Saturday was their next target.
“I feel very excited that we also did well despite losing the first two matches,” he said.
“We want to qualify and if we had lost against the Seychelles, our chances would have been slim. We want to maintain that win.”
Zimbabwe and South Africa are fighting for a slot to join Angola, who have already qualified, in the Afro-Basket Championships.
The Seychelles have found the going tough losing four out of the four matches they have played.
Countries are also fighting to qualify for the All-Africa Games.
Zimbabwe had earlier lost 60-64 to South Africa, went down 49-100 to Angola before they registered their first victory against Seychelles 69-61 on Tuesday.