Temps de lecture : 3 mn 🕗
LUANDA (Angola) – The last two editions of the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket were harsh for two-time African champions Angola as they finished outside of the podium, and plummeted in the FIBA World Rankings.
For the Angolans, this year’s edition of the tournament emerges as an opportunity to return to their glory days.
They head to Yaounde, knowing that they face an uphill task to rewrite their history.
Here are some key elements about Angola.
FIBA Ranking Men: 43rd (World); No.5 in Africa as of September 13, 2021.
Last participation in the Women’s AfroBasket: 2019 (4 wins, two losses).
Best result at Women’s AfroBasket: African champions in 2011 and 2013.
How they qualified for the 2021 AfroBasket: Botswana and Zimbabwe didn’t turn up in Luanda for the Zone 6 Qualifier, and, as a result, hosts Angola secured the only ticket available for the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2021.
World: By winning the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2011 in Bamako, Angola secured the only ticket on offer for African teams for the 12-nation London Olympics.
And, by clinching the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2013 in Maputo, Angola qualified automatically to the FIBA Basketball Women’s Basketball World Cup 2014 in Turkey, in what was the Angolans’ debut in the history of the tournament.
Prior to that, Angola competed in the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2008 in Spain, but returned home with a 1-3 mark, not good enough to advance to the Beijing Olympics.
Youth teams impact: Angolan youth teams have worked as a catalyst to the senior team over the years.
More than half of the Angolan squad heading to the Women’s AfroBasket 2021 have played for the country’s youth teams at some point in their careers.
Big names coming off Angola’s youth system includes Rosa Gala, Fineza Eusebio and Nadir Eusebio, just to mention a few.
Angolan players are seen here celebrating their Women’s AfroBasket 2011 title in Bamako, Mali
History/Qualification: The road to glory for Angolans was faced with ups and downs, but one thing is certain: They never gave up until they left their first-ever Women’s AfroBasket trophy. But prior to that, two straight Third-Place finishes in 2007 and 2009 was the best that Angola could get.
Key Players: Ever since Italee Lucas landed in Angola eight years ago, she knew she had a duty to fulfil in the Southern African country.
She is currently Angola’s key factor. An impressive ball handler with a terrific physic and passing ability, Lucas, who represented her native USA at youth tournaments, is the leader of this Angolan team.
She could have made her Women’s AfroBasket debut in 2015 after weeks practicing with her national teammates, however, an administrative decision prevented her from playing in Yaounde, where the Angolans finished fourth.
Other key players include the only two-time Africans in their squad – Fineza Eusebio and Nadir Manuel -, but also Clarisse Mpaka and Whitney Miguel, who both helped Angola win the 2013 edition of the tournament in Maputo.
New addition: Ana Goncalves is a decent three-point shooter, who sat out the 2019 edition of the tournament in Dakar. She brings her shooting and physical game to the two-time African champions Angola.
Head coach: Walter Costa has taken the Angolan job, replacing his countryman Apolinario Paquete.
Costa is a former Angolan international player, who represented his country at the Athens Olympics 2004 and featured at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2002 in Indianapolis.
The former point guard served as one of Will Voigt assistant coaches not only in the Qualifiers for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, but also in the Final Round of the 32-nation event in China.
At local level, Costa has been part of Primeiro D’Agosto coaching staff.
Outlook: The Quarter-Finals is achievable for the Angolans, but moving beyond that will require a lot more than passion, talent and experience.
Angola will need to want much more than their direct rivals such as Senegal, Nigeria, Mali and Mozambique.
Bringing back seven players from the Women’s AfroBasket 2019 seems to be a clever move by Coach Costa, but the absences of Ngiendula Filipe and rising star Alexia Dizeko might be an issue for the Angolans.
Whatever their result in Group B, where they will go up against Mozambique and Nigeria, will tell a lot about the team’s potential in the Championship.