sexta-feira, 26 de agosto de 2011

AFROBASKET - A day of high drama unfolds at Afrobasket

Carlos MORAIS and Leonel PAULO (Angola), after win over Cameroon.


ANTANANARIVO (Afrobasket) - On the ninth day of the Afrobasket, four teams clinched places in the Semi-Finals and stayed firmly in the hunt for a place at the London Games.

There was also an emotional first win for hosts Madagascar, the sacking of a coach and plenty of anger and frustration from the ambitious Cameroon.

Senegal, deemed one of the favorites to make it to the podium, also crashed out of the tournament.

They lost to a suddenly red-hot Ivory Coast, a side that has overcome two early defeats in the Afrobasket to reach the last four.

The Ivorians know a thing or two about playing well when the games really matter because two years ago in Libya, they were surprise winners of the silver medal.

They didn't just beat Senegal on Thursday, but thrashed them 75-59, with Mamadi Diane's 17 points and four rebounds leading the Ivoirians.

Ivory Coast's Guy Edi, who an outstanding performance a day earlier, contributed 12 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes.

They will now play Tunisia in a Semi-Final showdown between sides that competed at last year's FIBA World Championship.

Tunisia hammered Morocco 86-67 to reach the last four.

Amine Rzig led the Tunisians with 16 points and four rebounds while Mustapha Khalfi poured in 12 points for the Moroccans.

Earlier in the day, Nigeria sealed a place in the Semi-Finals with a 94-86 win over Central Africa Republic.

Mali managed their second victory against Mozambique in this tournament, winning 61-55.

Rwanda, though, were denied their first win by Egypt, who won their encounter 76-66.

Desperate to taste victory, Madagascar did just that.

They clinched just their third triumph in Afrobasket history with an 82-61 win over South Africa.

In the game of the day, Cameroon fell in the last seconds overtime to Angola.

And there is one thing that Cameroonian Franck Ndongo will never forget.

No foul should ever be committed when your team is leading by a point with two seconds to play.

After Parfait Bitee hit a go-ahead free-throw line jumper in the waning seconds of overtime, Ndong reached in and fouled Carlos Morais, thus allowing the Angolan to go to the line and make two free-throws for an 84-83 victory.

The Angolans, winners of every Afrobasket but one since 1989, will play in the Semi-Finals against Nigeria on Saturday.

It was a heartbreaking game that required overtime after the Angolans had trailed by 13 points.

The turning point happened when, with 10 seconds to play, Angola trailed 76-71 but recovered.

Milton Barros, who had spent the entire time on the bench, entered the game and made a three-pointer to close the gap to 76-74.

He then drew a charge from Parfait Bitee to get the ball back.

After a timeout, Barros inbounded the ball under the basket to teammate Felizardo Ambrosio and he made a lay-up with three seconds to play.

The game went to overtime.

In the extra five minutes, Morais hit six free-throws while Joaquim Gomes, the most valuable player of the tournament on two previous occasions, added a basket in the paint.

Cameroonian Christian Bayang had a game-high 28 points, 18 of them from the arc, but it was Carlos Morais (23pts and two assists) and his Angola teammates who ultimately celebrated.

The game was sloppy.

The Cameroonians turned the ball over 23 times to 21 for Angola.

Each side grabbed 51 rebounds.

Cameroon pressured full court most of the time, thus disrupting the Angolans.

Christian Bayang hit six shots from the arc for Cameroon.

For the Cameroonians, Gaston Esseng and Alfred Aboya used their physical advantage to dominate the paint. They combined for 20 points and 17 rebounds.

With the hope of reach the podium dashed, Cameroon will now compete for fifth place.

The side that wins the Afrobasket will reach the London Games, while the teams that clinch silver and bronze will be invited to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.


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