Luanda – There have been more questions than answers about Angola’s AfroBasket future, and Jone Pedro, one of the team’s key players, admits that they face an uphill task to return to glory days.
Angola is Africa’s all-time record winner of FIBA Africa’s premier tournament with no less than 11 titles to their credit.
At this year’s AfroBasket, which will run from August 24 to September 5 in Kigali, Rwanda the Southern African team will make their 21st consecutive appearance, and they want to take this count positively, according to Pedro.
The Petro de Luanda bigman, who is yet to play at AfroBasket, insists Angola will need a good start to the tournament when they take on their Group A opponents Cape Verde, Rwanda and DR Congo in order to return to winning ways.
He told FIBA.basketball that Angola is on track to be the team that Africa feared. “Like always, it’ll be to bring the trophy back home but there’s a lot we need to do/change and adapt to in order to be successful.”
He hopes that everyone on the team roster will have the same focus, determination, and will to do. “We got what it takes and just need to tap into it. As for me, I will do everything in my power to help the team win.”
The 2.09m centre, who helped Petro de Luanda finish third in the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) two months ago, said the experience he had in Kigali remains dear to his heart: “Honestly, I see this as the future of basketball in general. We got many talents across the continent and this platform helps the mind-set of the youth and the people in charge to create great opportunities to invest and succeed.”
Though Angola didn’t make it to this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan having lost two of their games in last month’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament against Slovenia and Poland respectively in Kaunas, Lithuania, the 31-year-old remains unperturbed.
“I take everything day by day and respect any opponent, obviously. People will say that (Group A) doesn’t look that hard, but I don’t get comfortable when it comes to this. You can’t control something that didn’t happen yet. So the best we can do as a team is to be as prepared as possible for everything.
“We need to win but we need to work hard too to be successful. I respect everybody and I’m happy to see and know the legends of Angolan basketball that paved the way. In regards to my personal goals, I intend to be the best version of myself.”
With five Olympic Games appearances to their credit, Angola has the likes of Carlos Morais, Olimpio Cipriano, Eduardo Mingas, Joaquim Gomes, Miguel Lutonda and Carlos Almeida to thank for their dominance.To qualify for the upcoming AfroBasket, Angola finished second place in Group B of the Qualifiers behind table-toppers Senegal, having registered 4 wins and two losses. – FIBA