THE Zimbabwe basketball team succumbed to their second defeat of the 2015 AfroBasket Championships, falling to Cote d’Ivoire 64-52 at the Rades Arena in Tunis on Saturday.
Point guard Souleyman Diabate led the Ivorians’ charge up with game-highs 17 points and eight assists as the Western Africans won their first game in Group D.
Zimbabwe’s big man Vitalis Chikoko, who got his fourth foul late in the third quarter and was forced to sit out, also had 17 points, and a game-high 10 rebounds.
However, that was not good enough to avoid their second defeat in as many games.
Although Cote d’Ivoire led most of the game, Zimbabwe managed to cut the deficit to just two points later in the third-quarter, but the Ivoirians prevailed. Zimbabwe had a short-lived five-point lead, but Cote d’Ivoire
managed to close the first quarter leading 14-11, and never trailed again.
Cote d’Ivoire led 32-22 at the break.
Making only 11 of their 23 freethrows has not helped the Zimbabweans. To make matters even worse, Zimbabwe turned the ball over 21 times.
Game hero, Diabate limped off for most of the contest, but coach Hugues Occansey only sat him out for 3:37 minutes.
His presence on court made significant impact for the Ivoirians.
Even though Cote d’Ivoire accomplished their first win in the tournament, the “Elephants” will need to play a lot better to move forward in the competition.
Diabate remains their inspirational leader on court, but it remains to be seen how they respond against tougher opposition.
Zimbabwe, who lost 87-67 to Algeria in their opening encounter on Thursday, now look set to be knocked out in the group stages in their maiden dance at the continental showpiece ahead of their final Group D encounter against
Cape Verde on Monday.
Taurai Chitsinde (captain),Tawanda Chitsinde, Simbarashe Mugomezi, Tinotenda Mugabe, Moses Muyambo, Eric Banda, Duncan Shenje, Vitalis Chikoko, (vice-captain), Tatenda Maturure, Everisto Pasipamire, Brian Hore, Neville Chivhanganye