InterCube de Luanda (ANG) - 2013 African Champions Cup for Women (ACCW) champions
SFAX (African Champions Cup for Women) - No team has won more African Champions Cup for Women (ACCW) titles in the past decade than Angolan side InterCube de Luanda, and over the next 10 days their dominance will be put to the test in the 2014 edition of the tournament.
The event runs from 28 November to 7 December in Sfax, Tunisia, with 12 teams expected to take part.
InterClube, the reigning ACCW champions, made some adjustments to their side.
Coach Apolinario Paquete, who helped the Luanda-based club claim two ACCW titles and a number of domestic tournaments, has joined the club's men's team as assistant coach to Portuguese Alberto Babo.
On the player front, Mali international Meiya Tirera - who contributed to the team's ACCW title run last year in Meknes, Morocco - was let go, while Italee Lucas, the team's playmaker has remained alongside Angolan internationals Nadir Manuel, Ngiendula Filipe Elsa Eduardo and Angelina Golome.
InterCube's new coach Manuel Sousa is probably better known as the three-point specialist who helped Angola cause one of the biggest upsets at the 1992 Olympic Games, when the Africans beat hosts Spain, a moment dubbed in the Spanish basketball annals as the "Angolazo".
Now Sousa replaces Paquete in taking charge of the ACCW defending champions, and made the team's intentions clear before they left for Tunisia early this week.
"We are the reigning champions and we will be competing to keep title. We won't give up easily," he said referring to the club's three ACCW title accomplished in the last four editions of FIBA Africa's flagship women club's tournament.
InterClube qualified for the tournament by finishing top of the FIBA Africa Zone 6 qualifier held in Maputo, Mozambique, earlier this month, with two wins over city rivals Primeiro D'Agosto, although they finished 1-1 against Ferroviario do Maputo.
From West Africa, Nigerian sides First Bank and Dolphins qualified for the tournament after finishing in the top two places of FIBA Africa Zone 3 qualifier held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, last month.
Dolphins head coach Ochuko Okworogun, addressing the local media, said the team will not travel to Sfax to make up numbers.
Having finished top of their qualifier ahead of First Bank is as a mental boost for the team according to Okworogun, who admitted her players lack international experience.
"We are more than determined to play knowing it is going to be tougher," she warned. "However, we will give our best out there. One thing I am promising is that Dolphin will not play as outsiders but as real contenders."
Meanwhile, First Bank's play caller Aderemi Adewunmi said: "Our experience in Ouagadougou made us understand the tempo of basketball beyond the Nigerian shores, so we expect nothing but a tough competition in Tunisia.
"The tournament is no strange ground to us, so we are going with the determination and with a squad that can reclaim our lost glory," he added in reference to the club's two ACCW titles (2003 and 2009).
The list of the 12 expected teams to compete at the ACCW 2014 is as follows: hosts Club Sportif Sfaxien and Club Sportif Police Traffic (both Tunisia); United States International University and Kenya Port Authority (both Kenya); INSS (Democratic Republic of Congo); INJS (Cameroon); Primeiro D'Agosto and InterClube de Luanda (both Angola); Dolphins and First Bank (both Nigeria); US Beau Bassin (Mauritius).
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