Amer wants to win AWBL title in front of Alexandria fans

HAGAR Amer desperately craves to win a continental title in her home city of Alexandria, Egypt and for the next eight days, she will be on a mission to achieve that goal.

From Monday (11-19 December), Amer, captain of Alexandria Sporting Club, will lead her team in defending their title in the new Africa Women’s Basketball League (AWBL). In Alexandria, Amer and her teammates will try to fend off the aspirations of nine other teams, aiming to usurp the trophy they won last year in Mozambique.

During an interview with The Big Tip-Off, Amer spoke about winning the old FIBA Africa Champions Cup last year. She also spoke about her expectations this year, the changes her team has made and the importance of winning the title on their home turf.

For Amer, whose club finished fourth in 2019, winning a first continental title was sweet, but winning a second on home soil may mean a little more.

The 30-year-old forward, MVP of their continental championship run in Maputo, expressed her desire to win in Egypt.

“I have been playing basketball for 26 years. I have never lifted a cup on our home court. It was always in other courts. That was great, but I want to experience winning at home. When I walk through our court alone, I try to imagine what it would be like to lift the cup,” said the Egyptian international.

Amer went down memory lane and reflected on their tournament success last year. She says they surprised themselves by winning the Champions Cup, especially facing the likes of Inter Clube (Angola) in the semi-final and eventually beating hosts Costa do Sol (Mozambique) in the final.

The Sporting captain also had a final to remember, scoring 18 points and crashing seven boards.

“It (last year) was our second participation in the tournament and honestly, our aim was not to win. When we went into last year’s tournament, we knew we would be facing excellent teams,” said the forward.

Amer is confident about their chances this year. The return of shooting guard Cierra Dillard, who was instrumental in their victory last year, has returned to the team. Dillard, who represents Senegal at the international level, was instrumental in last year’s Champions Cup, scoring 21 points and making three assists in the final.

Hagar Amer in action against Ferroviario de Maputo in2019
Sporting captain Hagar Amer says it would mean a lot to win the AWBL at home. Picture: FIBA

In addition to Dillard, Yacine Diop and Fatou Diagne of Senegal have joined the team. American Destiny Pitts, a former guard for Texas A&M, has been with the team throughout the season. Amer believes that the recruits have improved the team.

“Our new signings have made our team much stronger. We are confident that we are better prepared for the upcoming tournament than last year. We have been practicing hard and have seen positive results,” said Amer.

Amer acknowledges they will face a challenge in defending their crown. She says playing at home should give them extra impetus against the continent’s best teams.

“It’s not going to be an easy tournament. There are a lot of great teams from Angola and Rwanda,” said Amer. “It is not going to be easy. But we are motivated because we are playing in our homeland. Winning this championship and going back-to-back in Egypt would be a tremendous honour.”

  • Sporting are in Group A alongside CNSS (Democratic Republic of Congo), Kenya Ports Authority, Université de Douala and Customs (Nigeria)

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