Since the start of the Afrobasket Féminin 2023, Mali has shown its ambitions. The Eagles followed up with a second victory over Senegal (72-49). A success built on a well-thought-out strategy.
Kigali - Two matches, two defeats, Senegal are in any shape or form during this Afrobasket Féminin 2023. Nobody expected it. After two months of preparation, we had logically thought that the Lionesses had the bottle. But after the defeat by Mali (72-49), national coach Moustapha Gaye made a chilling observation.
"We don't have the legs or the collective personality to win a match. The game plan worked for a half and then the team collapsed. I don't know if we're not physically ready after two months of preparation, but that's unacceptable. The Senegalese team isn't ready to go any further than that. Losing to Mali by that margin (23 points) is unacceptable. I'm very worried about the physical and mental state of my players. In the third quarter, the girls lost momentum and we collapsed. We're going to play our heart out against Egypt in the Round of 8, but we've got a lot of unanswered questions. We don't have the right to give up," asserts the Senegalese coach.
"Senegal are experienced, but old".
It's not just the Lionesses' lack of experience that's to blame.Mali have matured their game plan.As proof, the Aigles Dames grabbed 55 rebounds (17 offensive) compared with just 39 for Senegal, 11 of which were offensive. Mali played an intelligent game. They knew how to play inside the basket, pushing the Senegalese into committing fouls to get them out of the game, or making them doubt themselves to avoid the 5-foul rule. All the Senegalese pivots picked up four fouls. Fatou Diagne even took five. On the other hand, Arame Niang (4 fouls) and Aicha Ndour (4 fouls) were even out of the game due to the speed of their opponents.
Better still, the Malians accelerated the game on counter-attacks, spinning the ball around, then looking for the breakaway to get into the right shooting position."We tried to understand Senegal's game, even if it wasn't easy. In the dressing room, we made it clear to the players that, against a fairly experienced but older team, we had to move fast and catch them off guard", explains Mali coach Oumarou Sidiya.