Temps de lecture : 3 mn 🕗
KIGALI (Rwanda) – Rwanda qualified for the 2023 FIBA women's AfroBasket Semi-Finals courtesy of a victory made of sweat, skills and determination over Uganda 66-61.
The hosts of the tournament, buoyed by very vocal fans and by 1.72 m (5ft 8in) Destiney Promise Philoxy, were a bit shaken at first, but turned the tables at the right moment to show they belong among the tournament's final Four.
Destiney Promise Philoxy
Though at first, it seemed tough for Rwanda to make a statement, they patiently waited for their time to outrun Uganda and shine their light on the game.
And though desperate, the final attempts of Uganda saw them close a 20-point gap to 3 points, but they couldn't get any closer.
Outscoring Rwanda in the last quarter brought nothing as the hosts had just enough points to make it through.
TURNING POINT : Cheick Sarr's charges knew they wouldn't have it the easy way.
But when they got it going, they were unstoppable.
Coming back from halftime, the hosts kept going, this time with a 24-10 run, which would see them reach their biggest lead (51-32).
And when, in the face of adversity, the Gazelles were going nowhere, Rwanda kept their cool and built up their advantage.
Jane Asinde couldn't help Uganda to victory
HERO : 21-year old Ineza Sifa was the hero Rwanda needed to get through. Sure enough, she rose to the occasion with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists to become Rwanda's flag-bearer at this stage.
STATS DON'T LIE: There is one figure that can explain Rwanda's victory : it's the points from turnovers. Rwanda perfectly exploited this aspect of the game, scoring 18 points from the 26 Ugandan turnovers. To add to these figures, Rwanda was better at scoring fast breaks, with 17 points earned to Uganda's 4.
BOTTOM LINE: Rwanda have now made it to the Semi-Finals, the furthest they ever went in a FIBA Women's AfroBasket. With a team who can score 19 for 30 free throws, anything can happen.
The big question is: what awaits Rwanda for the next stage? Will it be reigning champions Nigeria or ambitious Mozambique?
Either way, coach Cheick Sarr seems to have found the winning formula.
THEY SAID : “This is historical. It's amazing. It's a dream come true for us. Nobody has done it before and we did it. We will just play and do what we got to do, give it all to reach the Finals. We're out to win it all.” – Ineza Sifa, Rwanda guard.
“It was not the result we expected. But Rwanda came out very aggressive, with a big fighting spirit. We had our fighting spirit too, we were down by 20 points, we came back, but those 5 points were just too much for us. We could have defended better. On another hand, I'm super proud to have played with these girls and of what we have achieved together.”- Mellissa Akullu, Uganda guard.