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Country to Miss Zim Basketball Tourney - Feb 23, 2007

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Botswana has pulled out of the International Basketball Association (FIBA) Africa joint preliminaries for the 2007 All-Africa Games and the African Nations Championships to be hosted by Zimbabwe later this month.

Botswana's withdrawal has forced tournament organisers to delay the start of the event by two days. Five countries from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region - Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe will now be participating in the tournament, which runs from February 26 to March 3. The Harare championships will be used as joint qualifiers for the All-Africa Games in Algeria later this year and the African Nations Championships in Angola next August. Angola is the continent's leading basketball-playing nation.Addison Chiware, chairman of the Basketball Union of Zimbabwe (BUZ) confirmed that only five countries would be participating, adding that Botswana's absence would be a blow to the tournament. "The Federation International de Basketball (FIBA) recently informed us that Botswana would not be among the contestants after they withdrew. Because of their withdrawal, we have changed the date for the beginning of the event. It will now start two days late," said Chiware.

"Their absence means that the competition and excitement Batswana were to bring to Harare will not be there. However, despite their withdrawal, we are confident the tournament will be successful," he added.

Malawi, who had been out of the international competition for close to two decades, will mark their return. The Malawians will be fielding their men's team. The two top teams from the Harare qualifiers - one for men and the other for women - will represent the Southern African region at the All-Africa Games and the African Nations Championships. The men's team from powerhouse Angola automatically qualified for both tournaments because they are the defending All-Africa Games champions and Africa Nations Cup hosts. Algeria qualified for the All-Africa Games by virtue of being the hosts. The Harare tournament would be played on a round-robin basis, which means that each team plays against the other once.

(Courtesy of Basketball in Africa)  

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