ALGIERS (Algeria) – Algeria became the latest team to advance to the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers Round despite a 99-90 home defeat against Cape Verde on Thursday.
After Wednesday’s 79-67 defeat this was a do-or-die game for Cape Verde and as Algeria head coach Faid Bilal predicted, it was an intense game that went to wire.
One of the few members from the Algeria team that last featured at a major continental at AfroBasket 2015, Kamel Ammour knew the importance of winning the series.
PLAYING FOR MY COUNTRY MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME. THIS WIN IS NOT JUST ABOUT ME. IT’S ABOUT OUR COUNTRY
And he didn’t even bother to spend the entire forty minutes on the floor as he finished with a game-high 30 points, he also had team-best seven rebounds and seven assists while Merouane Mekdad added 14 points and Mohamed Touati contributed 20 points.
“I would do everything again,” Ammour told FIBA.com when asked about his impact on the game. “Playing for my country means everything to me. This win isn’t just about me. It’s about our country. We last played at AfroBasket in 2015, and I thought I had to do everything in my power to help the team. We are all very happy, but we know that we need to improve a bit more.”
The visitors needed to beat Algeria by 13 points or more to advance to the Second Round of the AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers, and they reached that mark (92-78) with 2:33 minutes left, but a number of unnecessary fouls followed by an apparent fatigue proved costly for Cape Verde.
PLAYING NIGERIA, MALI AND RWANDA WILL BE EVEN MORE CHALLENGING, BUT WE BELIEVE WE WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO QUALIFY FOR THE AFROBASKET 2021-
And thanks to their 79-67 win on Wednesday, Algeria closed the two-game series with a 169-166 win on aggregate, and they will now join Nigeria, Mali and Rwanda in Group D, whose action takes place next window from November 23 – December 1 at venues yet to be determined.
Once again Ivan Almeida led Cape with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists before e fouled out in the final seconds of the game. His older brother Joel added 16 points, Kevin Koronel and William Tavares finished with 18 points each.
Yet the Cape Verdeans fell short, and Ammour paid tribute to them.
“I must give credit o Cape Verde, a very, very good team. And defending a player like [Ivan] Almeida is not an easy task because he is an excellent player. I did what I could. Even when we were 14 points down we still believed we could turn the series around. One or two baskets would do it for us, and we did it. We are happy because we are through.”
Looking ahead of the Qualifiers, Ammour continued: “Hopefully, some players like Mohamed Harat who couldn’t come, will join us when we play the next round. Playing Nigeria, Mali and Rwanda will be even more challenging, but we believe we will have a chance to qualify for the AfroBasket 2021. The team will have a training camp in February and before we start the Second Round we need to be at our best level.