Africa Roars as Indian Hoopsters Notch First Win

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24/01/2014 : While India fumbled in their first basketball tie at the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium in Taleigao, African countries Mozambique and Cape Verde triumphed over their Macanese opponents; and how.

The opening game of the sporting discipline saw Cape Verde take on Macau in the men’s match. The African team hit the ground running and squeezed any hope that Macau might have had of recovery by the end of the first quarter, with the scores notched at 28-3 in favour of Cape Verde. The final result was anything but flattering for Macau, with Cape Verde winning by a comfortable margin, at 96-46.

 Cape Verde’s Coach, Antonio Tavares, said, “There is much that the side can take away from this game. We might have dominated, but there are several aspects of our game that we can improve on. All in all, a satisfactory result, because there are a couple of senior players in the side, but the bulk of the team is made up of a youth squad.”  The Captain of Cape Verde, Elizandro Rodrigues, said, “Granted that we were a more physical side, but we still have Mozambique to play, and that, I believe, will be a true test of our mettle.”

 The officials from Macau assessed their performance, with the Head Coach, Wong Hong Tok, commenting, “We have come here, as a squad that hasn’t completely been tested. In Macau, sports, especially basketball, is a side profession. As such, players get less time for skill development as compared to countries that are more supportive. We have a couple of players here who have never played for the national squad before. So all in all, I think that this was a commendable effort.”

 Macau Captain, Hang Kan Wai, said, “I think that the game was pretty much lost for us, shortly after its onset. We struggled to get our footing, and after we had given up that big a lead, the team was dejected. I hope that from this point on, we can improve.” The women’s match, saw Mozambique battle the Macau female team, though the one-sided nature of the affair can scarcely be called a battle. The Asian women’s team stumbled just as their male counterparts did, and were torn apart by the Africans with the final score being registered at 111-29.

 Mozambican Head Coach, Nazir Sale, said, “We will take one game at a time. We can afford to get too buoyed by our victory. There are still other matches to be played, and we should not get too ambitious, but I aim to do my very best, and if other results go our way like this one did, we have everything to look forward to.” The Captain, Deolinda Ngulela, concurred saying, “We found that it was easy for us to get into a rhythm in a short span of time. Once we discovered that initial flow, it was easy enough for us to dominate with our physicality. I hope to put on a similar performance for the remainder of the tournament.”

 Macau’s Captain agreed with the summary of her counterpart, saying, “We were dominated by our opponents, more by our sheer lack of experience than our ability, but once we were found out, there was no chance for us to get back into the game. Having said that, even though we lost today, the entire experience for us, right up to this point, has been superb.” The Asian team’s Head Coach, Wong Hong Iok, added, “We struggled today in terms of experience. That was evident, but I aspire to do better for the remainder of the tournament. As we grow in exposure, we will do so too in terms of quality of performance.”

 The much anticipated final match of the day, that drew spectators in droves, was between the men’s squads from Goa-India and Guinea Bissau. The match took off at a frenetic pace and neither team played with anything less than a 110%. However, in what was a completely physically dominated encounter, it was Goa-India that surged ahead at the start of the match through an inspired performance with the first quarter score set at 19-9.

 Building a steady rhythm through to the second quarter, and then the remainder of the tie, it was Goa-India that eventually came out on top, with the score at 82-48.On the victory, Indian Head Coach, Scott Flemming said, “We had to deal with a team that tested our limits. It’s a great start to the tournament. We are, obviously, going to attempt to our very best to win a Gold Medal at this event, but we must take everything one phase at a time.” The leader of his troops, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, added, “Personally, it was a great win for the team. To an extent, I feel I could do better personally, but there are always ups and downs. From a collective point of view though, great effort all round.”

Flemming’s opposing partner, Floraintionio Lopes Rodrigues, discussing the result, said, “It’s quite obvious that our strategies here just did not work today. We had this belief that our plan to combat Goa-India’s game-play would work, but we suffered because of their height advantage.”