Mozambique Women's Basketball Thrills with Last-Second Win Over Nigeria

Mozambicans went wild yesterday for their national basketball team, the women “Samurais” as they are known, as they triumphed over Nigeria in the final seconds of the quarterfinals of the Afrobasket championship in Maputo.

The home crowd was delirious after the buzzer-beating comeback on September 27, 2013, in which the Samurais scored six points in 24 seconds, with two three-pointers – one by Leia Dongue with two seconds remaining. After squandering an early lead, the Mozambique team staged an unforgettable campaign, buoyed by the home advantage.

This video inside the overcrowded Maxaquene Gymnasium gives a feeling for the electric atmosphere and the drama of the last seconds:

@Verdade reader Sabado Tomucene wrote about the final moments on the newspaper's Facebook wall:

O ambiente euforico vivido nos ultimos 5 segundos finais em que aconteceu o triplo victorioso foi loucura. Ver aquele publico saltar, vibrar, gritar, chorar… ver aquelas pessoas transpiradas que 1 minuto antes estava todo pavilhap gelado porque ja nao se acreditava naquele final feliz, Ver nossa jogadora desmaiada (!!) pelo impacto emocianante do triplo victorioso quando poucas pessoas senao apenas a equipa tecnica e as jogadoras tentavam acomoda-la.

The euphoric atmosphere was crazy during the last five seconds when the last victorious three-pointer was scored. Seeing the crowd jump up and down, vibrate, shout and cry… seeing people sweating who only one minute before were totally frozen with the rest of the stadium no longer believing in a happy ending, seeing our player fainting with the emotional impact of the victorious three-pointer when few people from the support team and players tried to help her. IT WAS TOTAL CRAZINESS.

Photo by Leia Dongue shared on Flickr by @Verdade (CC BY 2.0)

Photo shared on Flickr by @Verdade (CC BY 2.0)

It is rare for any national team to generate such excitement in Mozambique, and like in many countries, women's sport is often overlooked. Not the case last night. @Verdade newspaper's wall, now with over 40,000 readers, was overflowing with comments and excitement. One photo, showing Leia Dongue, was shared 172 times, received more than 1,120 likes and generated more than 440 ecstatic comments by @Verdade readers.

Reader Estevao Fanuel Tete commented:

O corte de energia k se deu na TVM nesses ultimos segundos do jogo deve me ter salvo a vida. Eu ja estava agonizando!!! Nunca antes uma partida de modalidade alguma tinha posto tao em causa a minha saude.

The power cut that happened at TVM [Mozambique's Television] in the last seconds of the game must have saved my life. I was suffering!!! Never before had a game ever put my health at risk in such a way.

Reader Adriano Felix wrote on @Verdade's Facebook wall:

Num momento de crises diversas pelo país, estas campeãs fazem de tudo pra levantar a nossa autoestima e orgulho de ser daqui. Ainda vamos sentir o impacto disso na sociedade, na economia e na cultura nacionais, na reputação internacional. Quem, fora de Moz, não googlou sobre moz desde que o evento começou? Gerou curiosidade, ne. Quem nestes não vai trabalho ou escola cheio de si e da moçambicanidade adoirada pleas meninas? Já não se lamenta falta disto ou aquilo, comenta-se orgulhosamente as proezas das nossas representantes. Ainda há quem pense que não importa investir no desporto e na cultura! Quem negaria o título de heróinas nacionais as meninas?!

In a moment of various crises throughout the country, these champions did everything possible to raise our self-esteem and pride for being from here. We will continue to feel the impact of this in society, the economy and national culture, and in our national reputation. Who, outside of Mozambique, didn't Google Mozambique since the event began? It's generated curiosity. Who among us won't go to work or school full of ourselves and of the Mozambicanness so adored by these women? No more complaining about the lack of this or that, we'll comment proudly on the prowess of our representatives. Are there still those who would say it's not important to invest in sport and culture? Who would deny these women the title of national heroes?

The Samurais will face Cameroon in the semifinals today, and Mozambican readers joke that they will “grill” the Cameroonians – Cameroon in Portuguese is Camarões, the same word for shrimp. Grilled prawns and shrimp are delicacies in Mozambique. The other semifinal will be between reigning champions Angola and Senegal. A final between Angola and Mozambique would hold special excitement, as the countries are rivals in sport.

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