ALAS, the African Basketball Championship (Afrobasket) qualifiers have come to a conclusion. The drama and talent on show intoxicated fans, leaving eyes wanting as we await the Afrobasket finals in Kigali, Rwanda. In the enthusiasm for what is to come, The African Mirror brings you the stand-out performers from the tournament held in Tunisia and Cameroon.
- Salah Mejri (Tunisia)
Mejri’s presence on the floor cannot be understated, defensively and offensively, the Tunisian has been his team’s pivot. If you needed an indication as to how impactful the center has been Tunisia have yet to lose a game throughout the campaign (6-0). Meiji’s statistics jump out the screen with 12.3 points per game, an authoritative 8.3 rebounds per game, and an outstanding 4.3 blocks per game. Mejri has continued to be a force to be reckoned with for the reigning African champions.
- Ike Iroegbu (Nigeria)
Nigeria’s supremacy throughout the qualifying tournament would cease to exist without their electrifying point guard. The speedy guard was a catalyst to Nigeria’s success with balanced figures of 13.2 points per game, five rebounds, and five assists. Iroegbu was reliable on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor showing patience when the team required, and hit the mark with big shots to elevate the team. He would finish the tournament with an astonishing 48.4% from the three-point line (15/31).
- Haytham Khalifa (Egypt)
A stand-out spark plug for an assertive Egyptian team, Khalifa galvanized the Egyptians with 13 points per game, shooting 43% from the three-point line. Egypt have continued their dominance throughout the qualifying campaign suffocating their counterparts with a well orchestrated press. The power forward was at the heart of this press, impressively running the floor with a never-ending motor.
- Stephane Konate (Côte d’Ivoire)
Leading his team to a huge win over Cameroon took character and excellent decision making. His 25 point outing on the final day was the icing on the cake for Konate who has been averaging a steady 13.8 points per game, scoring on 50% of his shot attempts, and eating 4.8 rebounds per game. Konate’s impact has been greatly felt by his team as he has led the Ivorians to an undefeated (6-0) qualifying campaign leaving them in good stead for the Afrobasket finals.
- Nuni Omot (South Sudan)
History was made in Monastir, Tunisia as South Sudan qualified for their first ever Afrobasket final. A sublime performance from Nuni Omot helped energize his team to second in Group D, ahead of a solid Malian team. Omot’s coming out party was a game-high 27 points much to the shock of a panicked Nigerian team. Nigeria composed themselves to win the fixture 75-70, but Omot’s exploits did not go unnoticed.
Kendal Manuel (Mozambique)
At any given moment when Mozambique needed to score Manuel never failed to deliver. The sharpshooting guard was a consistent source of production averaging 12.5 points per game throughout six games and enamoured eyes shooting 67% from behind the three-point line against a defensively strong Angola team. Despite missing out on Afrobasket qualification the performance of the 23 year-old was a foreshadowing of great things on the horizon in the future.
Walter Cabral (Equatorial Guinea)
How has Equatorial Guinea not qualified for the Afrobasket finals with Walter Cabral leading the way? Cabral led his team in points (16.4), rebounds (7.4), efficiency (17.4), and was third in assists with two a game. He should be on a winning team.
Carlos Morais (Angola)
To win elite tournaments you need a player in the mould of Carlos Morais. The veteran wing averaged 13.2 points per game, scoring his tournament-high 21 in a win against Mozambique. At 35 years-old he has not missed a step and Angola will continue to look to him in their chase for a 12th title.
Three qualifying tickets remain for the Afrobasket finals in Kigali. The 13 teams that have qualified so far are Rwanda (Hosts), Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, and Tunisia.
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