The inaugural African Women Basketball League (AWBL) competition, featuring ten teams, begins on Monday.
The nine-day competition, formerly known as the FIBA Africa Champions Cup for Women, gets underway at 11 a.m. (local time) with a matchup between Nigeria’s Customs and Cameroon’s University of Doula.
The two teams will begin play not only for the competition but also for Group A, which includes Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Democratic Republic of Congo’s CNSS, and holders Alexandria Sporting of Egypt.
Group B includes the wild card entries, Overdose of Cameroon, ASPAC of Benin, Zone Five silver medalists Rwanda Energy Group (REG), and Angolan champions Inter Clube and Equity Bank Hawks.
In the second game of the day, the Rwandan team begins Group B action as they aim to get off to a strong start against Overdose.
Subsequently, Benson Oluoch’s Equity Bank will take the field to commence their campaign against Inter Clube, a match that serves as a prelude to the inaugural ceremony scheduled for 1900 hours.
The opening day’s last matchup matches hosts and holders Alexandria Sporting against CNSS, with the team led by Mohamed Abdelrahman hoping to win and advance in the title race.
The Egyptian team made history last year when they defeated the home team Costa Do Sol 65-58 in a fiercely contested Final in Maputo, defying all odds to become the first Egyptian team to win the FIBA Africa Champions Cup Women.
Hagar Amer, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) from the previous season, leads the talented team as they aim to win another championship.
Four more front-court players have been added to the team by the team, in addition to all the players who competed for the team in the previous championship.
Aya el Feqy and Senegalese forward Yacine Diop, along with post-players Hala el Sharawy and Nour Talat, are the new additions.
Coach Ade Koko of CNSS, who saw their team fail in 2019 and 2022, is adamant that they are here to learn and compete as they aim for the Last Four stage.
“Our objective is to finish in the top four or higher. We have lost in the Quarter-Finals in the last two tournaments. But we still aim high. We want to be among the top four clubs in Africa… That is our objective,” said Koko.
“Some of our players will participate in their first African club competition. We have a young team. I want them to learn. That is my first message to them. To the ones who have already participated, they have a guiding role to play. There will be a lot of pressure, and we should let it get us or will lose sight of our goal,” he added.
In the meantime, every club has gone all out to bolster their roster with high-profile players, such as Tiffany Mitchell, an American WNBA star who plays for the Minnesota Lynx and adds depth to REG.
She joins Nia Clouden, a player for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA, and the Zone 5 silver medalists.
Alexandria Sporting (EGYPT)
CNSS (RD CONGO)
University of Doula (CAMEROON)
Inter Club (ANGOLA)
Equity Bank (KENYA)
Gameday 1 schedule:
Universite of Doula vs Customs (11:00)
REG vs Overdose (13:30)
Interclub vs Equity (16:00)
Opening Ceremony (19:00)
Sporting vs CNSS (20:30)