Afro-Basket is the biennial men’s basketball continental championship of Africa. The 2015 Afro-Basket was the 28th edition and it acquired added significance since it also served as the qualifying tournament for FIBA Africa at the 2016 Summer Olympics Games at Rio de Janeiro. 16 teams participated in the event that began on August 19 and concluded on August 30, 2015. Held in the Tunisian city of Rades, the tournament generated tremendous excitement and Nigeria emerged as the winner by beating Angola in the final. As title winners, Nigeria automatically qualified for the 2016 Rio Games. Africa has been allotted three spots and with Nigeria having already qualified, two more teams can qualify. Angola, Tunisia and Senegal, who finished second, third and fourth respectively in the 2015 Afro-Basket will participate in next summer’s FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Nigeria joins the three already qualified teams; Brazil as hosts; USA as the winners of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and Australia as Oceania Champions. Angola has been the most successful basketball nation in Africa having won the African title 12 times. They took the early lead but Nigeria’s coach instituted the rotation, which made favorable difference as Nigeria turned the game around in the second quarter. After that, there was no stopping them. Chamberlain Oguchi and Olaseni Lawal were the heroes for Nigeria in contributing 19 and 12 points respectively.
It was a double joy for Nigeria after the 2015 Afro-Basket Tournament that concluded in Tunisia 10 days ago. For the first time in tournament’s history, they emerged as African champions after beating Angola 74-65 and the icing on the cake came from their automatic qualification for the 2016 Rio Games. Angola seized an early 7-1 lead in the first seven minutes of the game and it looked like they were headed for their 13th African championship. As the match entered the second, quarter with Angola in the lead, Nigeria’s coach affected team rotation and the things began to change. The turning point came, when Chamberlain Oguchi hit a three-pointer and Nigeria went to a 23-19 lead with 3:28 minutes remaining in the second quarter. The lead brought new spring in the Nigerians’ game and they ended the second quarter with a 37-24 lead. Angola were themselves to blame as they allowed Nigerians to take the upper hand with 12 personal fouls in the second quarter. The resulting free-throws swelled Nigeria’s lead. Although Angola cut the deficit to just seven points in the third quarter, Nigeria regrouped in time to stay comfortably ahead for the remainder of the contest. Other than Oguchi, Olaseni Lawal played offensively to score 12 points with 5 rebounds. The athleticism of the Nigerians helped them in converting the rebounds and the match ended in a 74-65 victory for them. Third-placed Tunisia bounced back after their semifinal loss against Angola and defeated Senegal in the bronze medal match 82-73. Angola, Tunisia and Senegal still have the chance to qualify but they will have to wait until next summer’s FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
In Afro-Basket Classification Games, Egypt defeated Algeria 69-63 to finish fifth, Mali was 7th with a 94-82 victory over Gabon; Cameroon was 9th by defeating Cape Verde 88-66; Mozambique finished 11th with a 70-63 win over Ivory Coast; Morocco took the 13th spot with an 86-74 victory over Central African Republic (CAF) and Uganda was 15th with a 72-64 victory over the 16th placed Zimbabwe.
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