Kigali – With the 30th edition of the FIBA AfroBasket starting on August 24, here’s an in-depth look at the 16 national teams and how they rank.
The champions will be crowned on September 5 at the state-of-the-art Kigali Arena in Rwanda.
This power rankings takes into account recent performances, roster announcements, injuries, absences, and preparation games.
Qualifiers Record: 6-0 in Group A
FIBA Africa Ranking: 2nd
Reigning African champions Tunisia have moved on from losses to Brazil and hosts Croatia at Split’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) two months ago. By beating Cote d’Ivoire in their latest warm-up game before departing for Kigali, Tunisia spelt out a message out loud: “Do not ever underestimate the heart of a champion.”
The returns of Makram Ben Romdhane, Michael Roll and Ziyed Chennoufi, who all sat out the OQT represent a major boost for Tunisia. They look even stronger than they were throughout the Qualifiers. Tunisia selected six members from the AfroBasket 2017 winning team including: Omar Abada, Ziyed Chennoufi, Mourad El Mabrouk, Makthar Ghyaza and Radhouane Slimane. The Tunisian engine is roaring for Kigali.
Qualifiers Record: 5-1 in Group B
FIBA Africa Ranking: 4th
Senegal may be heading to the Kigali showdown with a relatively new team, but having Gorgui Dieng – a two-time AfroBasket participant – Youssoupha Ndoye and newcomer point guard Pierria Henry says volumes about the team’s potential. Dieng has never hidden his intentions of trying to help his country win the AfroBasket before he contemplates retirement from the national team. Is this Senegal’s turn? The Senegalese look really strong heading to Kigali, especially after outclassing Guinea and Rwanda in a three-nation tournament in Dakar last week.
Qualifiers Record: 5-0 in Group E
FIBA Africa Ranking: 6th
Egypt’s strongest asset heading to the AfroBasket festival is the team’s cohesion. Ahmed Marei’s team has size – seven-footer Omar Oraby has rejoined the team -; talent, and haven’t looked so competitive in years. Assem Marei, Haytham Khalifa and Ibrahim El Gammal won’t be travelling to Kigali, but Egypt’s 6-0 mark in the Qualifiers translate the team’s progress in recent times.
Qualifiers Record: 4-2 in Group B
FIBA Africa Ranking: 3rd
Although this Angola team is far from being the most talented and lacks size they have plenty of AfroBasket experience to spare. 42-year-old Eduardo Mingas came out of the national team retirement at the request of head coach Joseph Claros. Mingas and Carlos Morais are the only two players at this year’s African Championship to have won four AfroBasket titles. Their former national teammate Miguel Lutonda, who currently serves as one of the team’s two assistant coaches, has lifted the AfroBasket title five times. Angola held a two-month training camp in Portugal where they played several friendly games. “The team is ready to compete,” Leonel Paulo said.
5 Cote d’Ivoire
Qualifiers Record: 6-0 in Group C
FIBA Africa Ranking: 5th
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. Deon Thompson was vital for the ‘Elephants’ of Cote d’Ivoire throughout the Qualifiers, but he won’t play in Kigali. His naturalised spot has been filled in by Matthew Costello, who had a brief stint in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs. Fresh off winning the inaugural Basketball Africa League with Zamalek in May in Kigali, Souleyman Diabate is a major boost for his country.
Qualifiers Record: 4-2 in Group C
FIBA Africa Ranking: 7th
A quick look into Cameroon’s squad, and it becomes clear why they can cause some damage in Kigali. Kenneth Kadji, DJ Strawberry and Jeremy Nzeulie can make this team’s offense flow. More importantly, Cameroon not only kept the core of the team from the Qualifiers, but they added decent shooters.
Qualifiers Record: 6-0 in Group D
FIBA Africa Ranking: 1st
Nigeria showed up at Tokyo 2020 last month with eight NBA players but none of them was available for Kigali. When the country’s Basketball Federation announced their final roster a week before the AfroBasket 2021, Omotayo Jordan Ogundiran was the only returning player from the Qualifiers, where he averaged 2.7 points in three games. Coach Mike Brown needs to be able to build a competitive team in less than two weeks. The chances of the No.1 team in Africa winning their second AfroBasket since 2015 are now being questioned.
8 South Sudan
Qualifiers Record: 3-3 in Group D
FIBA Africa Ranking: 14th
Here’s a team whose potential and talent needs no introduction. As the South Sudanese try to build their identity as a team, it’s fair to say that they are capable of moving out of the Group Phase.
Qualifiers Record: 3-1 in Group E
FIBA Africa Ranking: 13th
Uganda have faced ups and downs to make it to Kigali. After a historic away win against Morocco last month, the Silverbacks revealed they would risk miss out on the 16-nation AfroBasket due to lack of funds. Eventually, they made it while warm-up games were expected before the tournament. Uganda come up at No.9 in this ranking purely due to their bravery and determination to compete against the continent’s elite. And if the team’s most impactful player Ishmail Wainright is available, this team could go places.
10 Central African Republic
Qualifiers Record: 3-3 in Group A
FIBA Africa Ranking: 10th
It remains to be seen if the return of one Central African Republic’s finest players Romain Sato can help the team past the Group Phase.
Qualifiers Record: 3-3 in Group A
FIBA Africa Ranking: 11th
The Congolese spent most of their preparations in Tunisia. When asked about the status of the team, head coach Mathias Eckoff replied: “Our goals is to move past the group stage as one of the better teams and, hopefully, with the last game of the tournament.”
12 Cabo Verde
Qualifiers Record: 1-4 in Group E
FIBA Africa Ranking: 16th
Cabo Verde head coach Emanuel Trovoada has recently admitted that lack of meaningful warm-up games – after their training camp at home – could be an issue, but the talented roster at his disposal could make noises in Kigali. Cape Verde last played a competitive back in the last window of the Qualifiers in February in Monastir, a 94-65 defeat to Egypt.
Qualifiers Record: 2-4 in Group D
FIBA Africa Ranking: 9th
Having the core of the team from the Qualifiers back couldn’t have been more important for a team looking to reach the knock out stages of the AfroBasket 2021.
Qualifiers Record: 2-4 in Group B
FIBA Africa Ranking: 19th
At this stage, Kenya’s potential can only be accessed based on what the Morans achieved in the Qualifiers. The East Africans have played warm-up games with local clubs, and are expected to continue their preparations when they face Senegal, a team they lost to in the Qualifiers, on Sunday, August 22.
Qualifiers Record: Hosts; 1-5 in Group D
FIBA Africa Ranking: 15th
The hosts played a three-nation friendly tournament in Dakar last month, losing both games to Senegal (87-60) and Guinea (91-83). Head coach Cheikh Sarr summoned up the team’s readiness: “Defensively there are some principles that are lacking. We have to work on one-on-one situations and the boxing-out because teams beat us when they take a lot of offensive rebounds.”
Qualifiers Record: 1-5 in Group C
FIBA Africa Ranking: 21stAfter a nail-biting win over Equatorial Guinea in the last day of the Qualifiers, Guinea secured their second straight AfroBasket ticket. This position in the rankings doesn’t necessarily define Guinea’s chances. – FIBA