Former UMass star Destiney Philoxy trying to make Team Rwanda for 2023 AfroBasket tourney

By HANNAH BEVIS 

Staff Writer 

Published: 07-14-2023 7:17 PM

The FIBA Women's AfroBasket is the biennial African basketball championship, where 12 different countries go head to head for the continent’s title. The games hold additional significance, serving as qualifiers for the FIBA World Cup and the Olympics. 

Later this month, a familiar face might be suiting up for Team Rwanda, which is hosting the 2023 competition beginning July 28. Recent UMass grad and Minutewoman star point guard Destiney Philoxy was invited to Rwanda’s training camp for a chance to represent the country on one of Africa’s biggest basketball stages. 

Philoxy was one of 19 players invited to the team camp, which will need to be whittled down to 12 players by the time the first games start later this month. The point guard has been in Rwanda since June 5, getting to know her new teammates and coaches.  

“It's pretty cool,” Philoxy said on playing in Rwanda. “It's not what I expected... It’s quiet... they’re strict with their policies and rules. And the people are nice.” 

It’s just Philoxy’s second time traveling outside the United States – the first time came when she traveled with the UMass women’s basketball team to play three games in Portugal. So far, it’s been an enjoyable experience – she’s managed to take a couple of Uber rides on motorcycles instead of regular cars, though she misses the food in the U.S. The language barrier has been easier to adjust to than she expected. 

“(It’s) easier than I thought it would be because the coach knows English and he's been to America a number of times,” Philoxy said. “But sometimes it is a struggle to talk to my teammates on the court so during practice, I try to demonstrate what I'm trying to say, and then we'll go from there.” 

If Philoxy makes it onto the team, she and the rest of Team Rwanda will try to win their group in order to advance to the quarterfinals. Rwanda will face Angola and Cote d’Ivoire in Group A pool play action. Winning a group provides four teams an automatic ticket to the quarterfinals, but Rwanda could also advance by playing other teams from different groups to secure one of the four remaining spots in the quarters.

Philoxy isn’t thinking that far ahead yet. She’s trying to embrace the here and now. T he team is currently in Egypt for some scrimmages to prepare for the tournament, and she’ll learn shortly after they return this weekend whether she’s made the final roster.

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“Honestly, it didn't even hit me yet… I feel like it’s going to hit me when I get my first point against another team, then I'll probably get excited,” Philoxy said. “That’s probably when it’s going to hit me.”

Host Rwanda will play their first game in pool play on July 28, when they face Cote d’Ivoire at Kigali Arena.

Hannah Bevis can be reached at hbevis@gazettenet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Hannah_Bevis1.]]>