Tuesday Tunisia vs Guinea 10:30 am Central African Republic vs Egypt 13:30pm Rwanda vs DR Congo 18pm Angola vs Cape Verde 21pm
Afrobasket, the biggest basketball event for national teams on the continent will tip off today morning, August 24, at the Kigali Arena and will run through September 5.
The tournament has attracted 16 teams, ranging from the usual powerhouses like Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia, to smaller ones like Cape Verde, Kenya and Rwanda.
Day 1 of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 will see eight teams taking to the court with reigning African champions Tunisia facing Guinea (10:30 am GMT+2) in the opener of the tournament.
Later in the day, Egypt will go up against the Central African Republic (13:30 GMT+2); Rwanda will face neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo at 18:00 GMT+2 and, in the last action of the day, Angola will square off against Cape Verde (21:00 GMT+2).
In this article, Times Sport previews all the 16 teams that will be participating in the tournament.
Rwanda, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cape Verde.
This will be Rwanda’s sixth appearance at the competition, since they had their debut in 2007.
Unlike other nations that had to tussle it out for qualification for the 2021 edition, Rwanda automatically made it to the tournament as the host, but there is now a lot to fight for, playing in front of the home fans.
Key man: Seasoned shooting guard Kenny Gasana is expected to be the key man for Rwanda, bringing quality to the team in terms of experience, leadership and skill.
Gasana has featured in four of the five times that the country has participated in the Afrobasket competition.
National team ranking: 13th (Africa).
Democratic Republic of Congo
DR Congo secured their ticket to this year’s Afrobasket by finishing as runners-up to Tunisia in Group A of the qualifiers.
Like Rwanda, this will be DRC’s sixth FIBA Afrobasket appearance, though they made their debut earlier in 1995.
Key man: Ruphin Kayembe-Tshiabu, a Congolese-Belgian professional basketball player who last played for Champagne Châlons-Reims of the LNB Pro A, the top-tier men’s professional basketball league in France, will be a player to watch for DRC.
The power -forward was the team’s top-scorer in the qualifiers with a total of 69 points.
Ranking: 11th in Africa.
Angola is one of the big teams in Africa, as they are eleven-time continental champions. They debuted in the African Championship in 1980, five years after their independence from Portugal. Since then, Angola have featured in the last twenty editions of the tournament.
Key man: Carlos Edilson Alcântara Morais, an Angolan professional basketball player who features for Petro Atlético can be a key player for Angola, though the team has many players who can cause impact.
Morais is an experienced player who has represented Angola at both the FIBA Africa Championship and the FIBA World Championship before.
Among some of his achievements, the shooting guard, was named MVP of AfroBasket 2013.
Ranking: 3rd in Africa
In this year’s Afrobasket, Cape Verde will be making their seventh appearance in the tournament history.
Key man: Ivan Almeida is a key player for the Cape Verde team.
The small forward, 32, features for Anwil Włocławek of the Polish Basketball League, where he has won several accolades including being named the Most Valuable Player in 2017.
Ranking: 14th in Africa.
Tunisia, Egypt, Central Africa Republic and Guinea
This year’s Afrobasket marks Tunisia’s eleventh straight appearance since 1999.
The North African nation has performed well at the tournament, reaching the semi-finals 4 times (2001, 2009, 2011, and 2015), before becoming the champions in 2017.
Key man: Makrem Ben Romdhane, the man who features for Union Sportif Monastir, will yet again be in Kigali, after showcasing great basketball in the BAL earlier this year, in the same city.
He can play both small forward and power forward positions, and has good shooting, game reading and experience that his team may need, going into the tournament.
Ranking: 2nd in Africa.
One of Egypt’s assets heading to the Afrobasket their team-work. The North African team is one of those that can be looked at as teams to beat in this tournament, boasting a good league and good players.
Key man: Anas Mahmoud, the man who was named the best defensive player of the Basketball Africa League earlier this year in Kigali is a key player for the team, as he can pull great blocks, but can also score.
Ranking: 6th in Africa.
Central Africa Republic
Central Africa Republic is one of the underdogs of the tournament, but nevertheless, they can pull surprises.
Three years ago, during the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, they forced Senegal into doubt, even though it eventually got the better of them with only a 5-point range (65-60).
Key man: Evans Ganapamo, 26, can be a player to watch. The 2.01 metre man plays as a small forward, and previously featured for Paris Basketball in France – Pro B, the 2nd-tier level of men’s professional basketball league in France.
Ranking: 10th in Africa.
After a hard-fought win over Equatorial Guinea in the last day of the Qualifiers, Guinea secured their second straight Afrobasket ticket, as they finished third in their Group of the Qualifiers.
Key man: Cedric Mansare, 35, an experienced player can be important for them in the tournament, as he is a good scorer who averaged 11.5 points per game during the qualifiers.
Ranking: 21 in Africa.
Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Kenya
Nigeria is the only African nation to ever qualify for the Summer Olympics through the FIBA World Olympic qualifying tournament.
The West Africans are a really big team in African basketball, and they are expected to stage a great show at the Afrobasket tournament.
They are coached by the experienced Coach in Mike Brown, who has worked with teams like Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Key man: Ikechukwu Somtochukwu Diogu; a Nigerian-American power forward who plays for Chemidor B.C is one of the good players the team have on their roster, though they left out some big names, for example those that play in the NBA.
Ranking: 1st in Africa.
Cote d’Ivoire’s lost to Tunisia 62-47 in a warm-up game just a few days before departing for Kigali, but this is a team that can rise to the occasion when it matters as was the case when they closed their Qualifiers campaign at 6-0, including two wins against a stubborn Cameroon team in Cameroon.
With two Afrobasket titles and five overall finals appearances, the country is traditionally home to one of the continent’s finest basketball national teams.
Key man: Vafessa Fofana; a professional Franco – Ivorian basketball player who plays as a power forward for French League side BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque can be one to watch.
Ranking: 4th in Africa.
Mali got their ticket only through two precious victories against Rwanda, which granted them a third place finish in Group D of the Qualifiers.
On the other hand, they suffered two defeats at the hands of South Sudan and Nigeria, who respectively took first and second place in the group.
Key man: Sadio Doucoure, a high-scoring player who averaged 12.5 points per game in the qualifiers can be one to watch.
Ranking: 9th in Africa.
The East Africans have not been at the Afrobasket tournament for about 28 years now. They will hopefully be looking to make the best of their appearance, since it was so long in coming.
Key man: American-born Preston Bungei who plies his trade in Denmark for Bakken Bears in the Danish League.
Ranking: 13th in Africa.
Senegal, Cameroon, South Sudan and Uganda
The five-time African champions last finished on the top step of the continental podium when they hosted the 1997 Afrobasket.
Since then, they have experienced ups and downs, including a ninth-place finish – their worst outcome ever in African Championship – at the 2007 Afrobasket.
Nevertheless, Senegal have reached the Semi-Finals at the last three Afrobasket editions.
Key man: Gorgui Sy Dieng, a player for the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association.
Ranking: 4th in Africa.
Brief: Cameroon can be remembered for their exploits at the 2007 Afrobasket, where they took Africa by a storm going all the way to the final, only to be denied by hosts Angola.
Since then, they have never missed qualification.
Key man: Kenneth Kadji who features for BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque of the LNB Pro A. He played college basketball for the University of Florida and University of Miami.
Ranking: 7th in Africa.
This is South Sudan’s first ever Afrobasket final tournament.
Key man: Teny Bak Puot, a decent shooter and ball handler can be crucial for the team.
Ranking: 14th in Africa.
The East Africans will be celebrating their third straight Afrobasket appearance.
Key man: Ishmael Wainright who recently signed for Toronto raptors will be a key player for them, due to his good shooting among, physicality and more qualities.
Ranking: 13th in Africa.