Power Rankings: FIBA Africa Basketball League 2019 ELITE 8
19/03/2019
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Power Rankings: FIBA Africa Basketball League 2019 ELITE 8

ABIDJAN (Cote d'Ivoire) - In the build-up to the knockout stage of the FIBA Africa Basketball League 2019, which starts later this week, FIBA.basketball breaks down and ranks the eight teams chasing a place in the Final-Four in May.

Based on teams' performances during the Group Phase, consistency, new signings and established records, here's how the Last Eight teams rank:

1. Association Sportive de Salé (Morocco) 

Record: 3-0
Points scored per game: 90.6
Points conceded per game: 74 points
Rebounds per game: 42
Field Goal Shooting: 49.3 per cent
Assists per game: 25:3

Association Sportive de Salé gave their fans many reasons to remain confident for the remaining of the tournament. Expectations are really high for the North Africans, especially after winning all their three Group A games.

It was a remarkable feat for Moroccan champions who played a first major continental tournament at home for the first time since they claimed a third-place finish at the dissolved FIBA Africa Champions Cup in 2011.

As they move on to the ELITE 8 knock out stage, where the reigning African champions will visit Nigerian outfit Civil Defenders Basketball, before hosting the decisive second-leg next  month, they look stronger than ever.

With a roster comprising of seven Moroccan internationals - including two former FIBA Africa Champions Cup MVPs Abdelhakim Zouita and Wayne Arnold - and coached by Zeljko Zecevic, Association Sportive de Salé have lived up to expectations so far, and show no signs of slowing down as figures and statistics suggest.

2. Smouha Sporting Club (Egypt)

Record: 3-0
Points scored per game: 92
Points conceded per game: 59
Assists per game: 13.7
Rebounds per game: 53.7
Field Goal Shooting: 46 per cent

Making their first continental appearance, the Alexandria-based side head to the Last Eight inspired by a successful Group D display in the Madagascar, where they stunned Africa heavyweight Petro Atletico de Luanda to improve their mark to 3-0.

What set Smouha Sporting Club apart from others is the fact that the Egyptians entered the tournament's history as the team with most points scored in a game (119) so far. They also recorded the highest three-point shooting average (52.5 per cent), and, more importantly, registered the second lowest turnover rate (10) in three games.

And although Smouha Sporting Club heavily relied on James Justice skillset - he averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds per game - Ashrif Farouk Elsayed's team demonstrated huge tenacity and determination, which  could be valuable when they host Egypt champions Al Ahly in the ELITE 8 two-game series.

3. Etoile Sportive Radès (Tunisia) 

Record: 3-0
Points scored per game: 78.6
Points conceded per game: 62.3
Rebounds per game: 44
Field Goal Shooting: 46.4 per cent
Assists per game: 19.7

After losing to Association Sportive de Salé in the Final of the FIBA Africa Champions Cup 2017 in front of their home fans, Etoile Sportive de Radès have made it clear that only the top step of the FIBA Africa Basketball League 2019 podium matters to them.

So far, things look good for the Tunisian champions. Before they go up against fellow Tunisian JS Kairouan, ES Radès trounced all their three Group B opponents in Cotonou by an average of 16 points per contest.

And when a team counts with the services of Amadou Mbodji, anything is possible. The Senegalese  center has been phenomenal averaging 16 points and the highest Field Goal shooting percentage (76) in the entire tournament. 

4. Primeiro D'Agosto (Angola) 

Record: 3-0
Points scored per game: 81
Points conceded per game: 65
Rebounds per game: 44
Field Goal Shooting: 40.4 per cent
Assists per game: 21

A team that travels to Cairo and outplays Al Ahly in front of their home fans, deserves every credit possible. And the Angolan champions did just that a month ago.

As the most successful African club with eight continental titles, D'Agosto last week strengthened their squad with the signing of Andre Harris, an experienced 34-year-old American forward, who played a major role helping now-dissolved Recreativo do Libolo claim a second-place at FIBA Africa Champions Cup 2016 in Cairo.

5. Petro Atletico de Luanda (Angola) 

Record: 2-1
Points scored per game: 78.3
Points conceded per game: 72
Rebounds per game: 44
Field Goal Shooting: 40.4 per cent
Assists per game: 10

Winning two of their three games by an average of 15.6 points proved good enough for the three-time African champions seal a ticket in the Last Eight, although a 79-62 defeat to Group D winners Smouha Sporting Club raised eyebrows. 

Aware of the  mighty challenge they face in the ELITE 8 against arch-rivals Primeiro D'Agosto, Petro Atletico de Luanda recruited Angolan star Carlos Morais for the remaining of the season.

Coached by Cameroonian Lazare Adingono, Petro Atletico de Luanda counts with a group of experienced Angolan international Leonel Paulo and Olimpio Cipriano - a duo who knows too well the implications of playing at such high-level.

6. Al Ahly (Egypt) 

Record: 2-1
Points scored per game: 80.3
Points conceded per game: 79.6
Rebounds per game: 43.7
Field Goal Shooting: 39.6 per cent
Assists per game: 21

After beating Recreativo do Libolo in the Final of the FIBA Africa Champions Cup 2016 to become the first Egyptian team to win the continental top prize - since Gezira in 1998 - Egypt champions Al Ahly started their FIBA Africa Basketball League 2019 campaign the worst way possible losing to title contender Primeiro D'Agosto.

However, with their backs against the wall, Reginald Holmes, Ramy Gunady and Tedd O'Brien rose to the occasion, inspiring Al Ahly to two must-win games against Ferroviario da Beira and REG Basketball.

Now, the historic club head to the Last Eight looking to deny high-flying Smouha Sporting Club.

7. Jeunesse Sportive Kairouanaise (Tunisia) 

Record: 2-1
Points scored per game: 80.3
Points conceded per game: 68.3
Rebounds per game: 41.7
Field Goal Shooting: 40 per cent
Assists per game: 15.3

Watch out, folks, Maodo Malick Nguirane and Lawrence Gilbert Jr are in town!

With averages of 17 points and 13.7 rebounds per game, Nguirane has become the only player to record a tournament-high three double-doubles.  

The Tunisians might seem outsiders in the Last Eight, but leading all teams from charity tripe (84 per cent) translate their focus to cause mayhem among the Africa's elite.  

8. Civil Defenders Basketball (Nigeria) 

Record: 2-1
Points scored per game: 69.6
Points conceded per game: 71
Rebounds per game: 50
Field Goal Shooting: 37.8 per cent
Assists per game: 13

The Nigerians may lack fluency offensively, but when it comes to fighting in the painted area, very few can match Defenders Basketball. They rank second - after Smouha SC - with 50 rebounds per game.

Unless, Defenders Basketball reinvent their offense quickly, taking on Africa reigning champions AS Sale could prove challenging. 

NOTE: This Power Rankings reflects the views of FIBA.basketball editorial team. It is a subjective exercise and it does reflect FIBA's World Rankings criteria. 

 FIBA