MOZ - Mozambique measuring team's potential ahead of Turkey 2014
MAPUTO (FIBA Basketball World Championship for Women) - Six weeks into their preparations for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women, including a few warm-up games, Mozambique will look to see where they stand by taking on Japan and Australia in the next few days on Japanese soil.
Before Mozambique opens its Group B campaign against France, Canada and the host nation, the runners-up of AfroBasket Women 2013 are currently holding a two-week training camp in Japan and China, and expected to play at least six games before returning home.
The team's captain Deolinda Ngulela says: "Our real tests start now. The teams that we have played on national soil do not reflect the teams that we will be facing in the world championship. We are looking forward to facing these teams.
"I am sure, once we complete this training camp we will be able to measure the team's potential," she said prior to the team's departure for Japan earlier this week.
Australia and Japan will play at the FIBA World Championship for Women.
For this East Asian tour, Mozambique head coach Nasir Sale has called up 10 of the players who helped the country claim the silver medal at last year's African Championship in their capital city of Maputo, with the retired pair of Clarisse Machanguana and Cecilia Henriques being the only ones missing. He added Ilda Chambe, Isabel Mavamba, Eliana Ventura and Regina Mahoche.
Sale's group of players blends veterans and top prospects.
Leia Dongue, for example, is considered the most improved player on the African continent over the past two years, as well as being the only Mozambican foreign-based player.
The 22-year-old, who plays for Angolan champions Primeiro D'Agosto, made her world stage debut in 2012 at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women in Ankara, Turkey.
Ana Flavia Azinheira, the oldest player on the team, has taken over the role of helping with the transition process.
"As one of the most senior players on the team, I have the duty of supporting the new players' integration, particularly because they are the future of our national team," said the 37-year-old, adding that Mozambique "are not going to Turkey to make up numbers."
Valerdina Manhonga, who has not missed an international competition at senior level since 2005 told local newspaper @Verdade: "I am sure our national team will be ready to make a good impression in the world championship.
"We are eager to show the world that we play good basketball in Mozambique.
"We acknowledge it will not be easy for us, but we'll be competing every game like it's a final for us," she pointed out.
Mozambique 14-player squad for the East Asian training camp and tour: Deolinda Ngulela, Anabela Cossa, Odelia Mafanela, Catia Halar, Valerdina Manhonga, Filomena Micato, Rute Muianga, Deolinda Gimo, Leia Dongue, Ana Flavia Azinheira, Ilda Chambe, Isabel Mavamba, Eliana Ventura and Regina Mahoche.