LUSAKA (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - Playing at home, in front of home fans and in a familiar setting is always an advantage for the hosts and Zambia are looking to make the most of this when they stage the upcoming FIBA AfroBasket 2017 Group G Qualifiers from March 25-30 in their capital of Lusaka.
"We are ready for the tournament. I feel this is our time to qualify. We are not underestimating any team but after a long time of playing against Mozambique and Zimbabwe, we have gained experience." - Shamboko
Shamboko's side is undergoing intense training sessions in Lusaka and is not leaving any stone unturned as they prepare for the regional tournament that has attracted giants Angola and South Africa.
The 41-year old former Matero Magic player told FIBA.com: "It is very important to have the home crowd backing us because we have never experienced this before so where we are right now, this is one of the advantages of playing on the home court."
Shamboko is cautious and says that playing at home can put immense pressure on the players but believes when a positive moment is swung in their favour, it can be a building block for momentum.
"Unlike in the past when we had not prepared adequately, this time around we have had ample time to prepare," he said. "We are ready for the tournament. I feel this is our time to qualify. We are not underestimating any team but after a long time of playing against Mozambique and Zimbabwe, we have gained experience.
"We know Angola is a powerhouse and we have always been the weeping boys of the group but this time round, it could work to our advantage and be a blessing in disguise.”
Shamboko will be relying on the form and experience of point guard Gosa Hamudulu, shooting guard Simukwela Lubindi as well as Chongo Chona and Moonga Chipilli along with Likando Akalaluka in the paint.
"The good thing is that our players have been playing against some of our opponents in the regional club championships so they know what to expect this time round," he pointed out.
The winner of the Group G Qualifiers as well as the team that finish top of Group H will represent Zone 6 at the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 Final Round in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo (August 19-30).