Two made free throws by Soraia Mohammed with 13 seconds left sealed a close 81-76 win as Egypt women’s basketball team eliminated Kenya from the Afro Basket Zone Five qualifiers in Cairo, Egypt.
This was Kenya’s second loss to the Egyptians in their double round robin tourney with the latter securing qualification for the Afro Basket Women’s Championship slated for September 15-24 in Bamako, Mali.
The hosts still had a match against Uganda on Saturday evening.
In this match, Kenya had the chance to close the gap and possibly tie the game twice with the first chance falling to captain Hilda Indasi who missed a three point attempt with six seconds remaining.
Seline Okumu also missed a jump shot in the dying seconds as Kenya gunned for a possible overtime.
Kenya took an 18-17 lead in the first quarter with the sporadically used Belinda Okoth coming in for Mercy Wanyama in the starting lineup.
The second quarter was also closely contested with Egypt taking a narrow 39-38 lead at halftime.
The end to end affair saw both teams trade baskets and six lead changes in the third quarter alone.
Egypt got the upper head by scoring 22 points while Kenya managed 19 to lead 61-57 in the match.
Tight scoring run
The fourth quarter brought more of the same with both teams cancelling each other’s baskets thus the Egyptians were able to prevail after a tight scoring run of 20-19 in their favor.
Mohammed had a good game by scoring 26 points, six rebounds and six assists. Raneem Elgedawy contributed 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Reem Osama added a further 15 points, six assists and four steals.
Menatalla Awad was their fourth player to score in double figures with 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Okoth, who has had limited game time throughout the competition was Kenya’s best performer on the night by scoring 11 points, 13 rebounds and one steal.
Betty Kananu top scored with 16 points and also made four three pointers plus grabbed six rebounds. Indasi had an improved performance with the captain scoring 14 points.
Star guard Natalie Akinyi had a subdued game offensively with nine points. However, she was instrumental in other areas by dishing out seven assists and four rebounds.
Akinyi also picked a few pockets with a game high six steals. Power forward Vilma Achieng almost had a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Egypt dominated the free throw percentage with a formidable 84.2 to Kenya’s 46.7 and also conjured 21 fast break points to Kenya’s 10 in the match.
Kenya had an impressive 25 points scored from the bench players while Egypt amassed only seven. Kenya had 49 rebounds in total while Egypt managed 44.
Egypt lead the standings with six points from three wins. Kenya is second with five points while Uganda is third on four points.
Egypt’s match against Uganda will be a mere formality as the north Africans are guaranteed of top spot and the sole qualification ticket.
Kenya upstaged by South Sudan
Kenya men’s team finished sixth after being upstaged again by debutantes South Sudan in their classification match.
South Sudan ran out 89-85 winners to complete the double over Kenya after an earlier 68-66 victory in the group phase.
Evans Letting had 19 points, five rebounds and three assists for Kenya. James Mwangi had 14 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Griffin Ligare and Michael Makiadi both had 12 points in the encounter. South Sudan’s Mathiang Muo capped off a solid display with 34 points.
Mathiang Chier had 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Ajak Amok chipped in with 15 points, 13 rebounds and two assists.
In other matches, hosts Egypt stormed into the finals and qualified for the African Championship after demolishing Burundi 135-71.
Uganda also booked their ticket to the continental showpiece by beating Rwanda 77-64 and will face Egypt in Saturday’s final.
Rwanda and Burundi will contest the third/fourth place positional playoff.
Men Fifth/sixth playoff: Kenya 84 South Sudan 89; Semi-final: Egypt 135 Burundi 71, Uganda 77 Rwanda 64.
Women: Egypt 81 Kenya 76.
Men, Final: Egypt v Uganda (9 p.m.); Third/fourth place: Rwanda v Burundi (4 p.m.).
Women: Egypt v Uganda (6 p.m.).