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Kenya Lioness goes hunting for AfroBasket glory in Cameroon

BASKETBALL By Washington Onyango | September 21st 2021
Kenya Lioness Victoria Reynolds (left) in action against Cape Verde. [FIBA]

The Kenya national women’s basketball team Lioness revived their AfroBasket quarterfinals hopes after rallying from behind to narrowly edge out Cape Verde in their last Group A match played in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on Sunday night.

After a slow start in the African women’s basketball tournament that saw Kenya lose 74-50 at the hands of Cameroon on Saturday, the East Africans bounced back in style to stun Cape Verde 61-58.

The victory keeps alive hopes of Kenya making the quarter-finals, but that was to be determined late yesterday after Cameroon faced Cape Verde.

Lioness moved on top of Group “A” with three points from two matches followed by Cameroon (two points) and Cape Verde (one point, before late last night’s match).

US-based basketballer Victoria Reynolds, who was kept quiet in the opening match with two points, led the onslaught with 17 points, five assists and four steals followed by Christine Akinyi with 14 points and five rebounds.

Reynolds also had five rebounds and the game second-most highest efficiency of 20% behind only to Cape Verde’s Joseana Vaz with 22%.

Mercy Wanyama had eight points and 10 rebounds, while Selina Okuma had seven points and two rebounds.

The victory also saw Kenya avenge their 63-41 loss to Cape Verde when they last played at the same level in the ninth place playoff back in 2013.

In the last four meetings so far, Kenya have now bagged three wins and lost once with the wins coming in 2007, 2013 and 2021.

George Mayienga’s side led the first quarter 16-12, but were outscored in the second period 21-12 as Cape Verde led 33-28 at the break.

Lioness rallied again to take the third quarter 15-13 for a 46-43 score before levelling matters at 58-58 with 43 seconds left on the clock.

Christine Akinyi then hit the last nail with a two-pointer to seal Kenya’s first win at the tournament.

In the opening game, Wanyama and Akinyi led Lioness with 12 points apiece as they lost 74-50 to Cameroon.

Kenya will now await to know if they will proceed to the quarters directly or play quarterfinals qualification round tomorrow.

The winners of Groups A, B, C, and D qualify automatically to the quarter-finals while the remaining eight teams will compete in the qualification round, to the quarter-finals tomorrow.

The quarter-final will be on Thursday.

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