Because it was being held on home soil, Ahly of Egypt had high hopes of winning the Africa Women’s Basketball Champions. However, the team’s hopes were dashed in the last four seconds of their semi-final match against Angola’s Inter Clube.
Losing the final by one point, 86-85, as time almost ran out, forced Ahly to play instead for third place against local archrivals and fellow countrywomen Sporting Club of Alexandria. Ahly won, with a big margin this time, 88-65, to secure a bronze medal.
In the group stage, all played in Cairo Stadium’s indoor hall, Ahly finished second and reached the semis after defeating Nigeria’s MFM Queens 62-78 in the previous round. Meanwhile, Alexandria Sporting Club defeated DR Congo side CNS in the quarter-finals with a 86-42 score after also finishing second in their group.
The Reds of Ahly were then drawn against Angolan giants Interclube, after the latter beat Cameroon’s Forces Armées et Police (FAP) in the quarters. The hosts got off to a slow start as they trailed 27-23 and 24-10 in the first two quarters. Despite having reduced the deficit later on, Ahly suffered a narrow 86-85 defeat.
Sporting suffered a heavy defeat with a 86-70 score-line. The Alexandria-based side were behind throughout the first three quarters and jumped back in the fourth quarter to win it 23-13. However it wasn’t enough for them to return into the game.
While the Angolans were the favourites, it was the Mozambican side Ferroviario de Maputo who won their second Africa Women’s Champions Cup after edging Inter Clube of Angola 91-90 after overtime in Saturday’s final.
Mozambican players Odelia Mafanela and Sarah Ogoke scored 22 points and picked up seven rebounds apiece to inspire the back-to-back champions in front of a high spectator turn-out. On the other side, point guard Italee Lucas scored 31 points, grabbed nine rebounds and made eight assists but her efforts were not enough to avoid a second consecutive loss to the same team in the final.
Ingvild Mucauro of Ferroviario de Maputo of Mozambique was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, headlining the All-Star Five, where she was joined by Kelsey Mitchell (Ahly), Astou Traore (Inter Clube), her teammate Odelia Mafanela (Ferroviario de Maputo) and Shawnta Dyer (Sporting Alexandria).
Schaquilla Nunn from Ahly was awarded the Best Rebounder with 87 rebounds to her name while Mitchell clinched the best three-point shooter with 28 in the tournament, and also walking away with being the highest scorer of the tournament with 173 points.
CNSS from the Democratic Republic of Congo was handed the Fair Play award.
Final standings of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Africa Women’s Champions Cup 2019 were, respectively: Ferroviario de Maputo (Mozambique), Inter Clube (Angola), Ahly (Egypt), Sporting Alexandria (Egypt), CNSS (Democratic Republic of Congo), FAP (Cameroon), MFM (Nigeria) and Energie (Benin).
*A version of this article appears in print in the 19 December, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.