DAKAR (Senegal) – At stake is the five tickets available for the continent to the global festival slated for Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.
So far, a total of 16 teams have played 24 games in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers over the course of two qualifying windows, which dates back to November 2021.
And following the conclusion of Window 2 in Dakar over the weekend, nine teams have made a huge strides and are in with a good chance.
With Nigeria, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Angola having done their bit in the Groups A and C games, it was time for teams in Groups B and D to hit the Dakar Arena surface running.
In the group games played over the weekend in the West Africa city of Dakar, five teams namely South Sudan, Tunisia, Senegal, DR Congo and Egypt all impressed.
And one of the most stunning result recorded was the 72-64 fall of the three-time African champions Tunisia to South Sudan in Group B.
The North Africans had no answer against the debutants.
This encounter was predictably billed as one of the most anticipated games at the iconic Arena and it never disappointed but lived up to its expectation.
Who would have put their money on this South Sudanese stunner? It is now clear that for the new kids on the block, it is no longer baby steps anymore – they up and running.
South Sudan, coached by Luol Deng, the president of the Federation, was the only team out of the eight to go unscathed in Dakar. Wining all their three games to bag maximum points.
The Carthage Eagles went 2-1 with Cameroon managing a 1-2 to post one victory while Rwanda handled by a Senegalese tactician Cheikh Sarr had a poor outing going 0-3.
In Group D, home team Senegal playing before their own drum beating fans topped on five points but not before surprisingly going down 62-57 to DR Congo.
But the Senegalese did well to beat Egypt 75-57 and the Pharaohs got the better of the Congolese 62-51 in another tie as each tasted defeat at least once.
Back in November in Angolan city of Benguela, Nigeria and Mali stood out in Group A posting a 2-1 record and five points on the bag. Uganda and Cape Verde were deadlocked on 4 points with a win and two losses.
Only Cote d’Ivoire had a sterling outing as they were the only nation with a 100 per cent record from Angola going 3-0 to gunner maximum points.
The home boys Angola, once a dominant force were third on 5 points on a 2-1 record with Guinea going 1-2 while CAF went down in all their three fixtures.
It is worth noting that South Sudan have never appeared in a FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Now they are in with a very good chance going into the next window. With the kind of morale they are experiencing, it can only get better.
All the three teams were locked on 5 points with Kenya, joining Rwanda and CAF as the only three nations not to have won at least a game. They slid to a 0-3 record each.
So who among the 16 teams will make it from the Second Round of African Qualifiers and parade at the 32-nation World Cup in 2023?