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Angola set to face endless challenges at FIBA AfroBasket 2017

LUANDA (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - In the lead-up to the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 to be co-hosted by Senegal and Tunisia, we take a closer look at all 16 participating teams competing in the championship running from September 8-16.

Team: Angola
NIKE FIBA World Ranking: 23rd
Last participation at FIBA AfroBasket: 2015 (5 wins, 2 losses) 2nd-place 
Best results in the history of FIBA AfroBasket: Eleven times FIBA AfroBasket champions (198919921993, 1995199920012003200520072009 and 2013)
Qualified for FIBA AfroBasket 2017: Winners of FIBA Africa Zone 6 Group G against Zambia and South Africa.

History/Qualification: Although they have won 11 of the last 14 editions of FIBA AfroBasket, the Angolans have lost the African basketball crown in 19972011 and 2015 to SenegalTunisia, and Nigeria respectively. 

Key players: Eduardo MingasCarlos Morais, and Reggie Moore are pivotal for the Angolans.

Rising Star: Both Bruno Fernando and Silvio De Sousa have recently been rated as Angola's next big players. The pair made their debut with the senior team at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2016 in Belgrade. 

Nevertheless, 21-year-old Jerson Goncalves - a left-handed shooting guard - seems to have found his space within the team, and is expected to make his FIBA AfroBasket debut in Dakar, where the Angolans will play in the Group Phase.

Outlook: Having won eleven African Championships since 1989, the Angolans have become Africa's most successful national team.

However, they have been challenged on a number of occasions in recent years, and this year might not be any different. 

Senegal - who currently enjoy a 3-0 head-to-head advantage over Angola -, Nigeria - who defeated them two years ago in the Final to claim their first-ever African title -, and hosts Tunisia, emerge as Angola's fiercest opponents.

And, it came as no surprise that two years ago Angola plummeted eight places in the NIKE FIBA World Rankings to become the number three team on the continent behind reigning champions Nigeria and Tunisia.

If Angola are to face Mario Palma-coached Tunisia, they will need to show their new identity as a team. After all, Palma has won four African titles at the helm of Angola and knows Angolan basketball better than most.

The Angolans have experienced some big changes heading for the FIBA AfroBasket 2017. Manuel Silva - who was one of the two assistant coaches along with Emanuel Trovoada at FIBA AfroBasket 2015 - has been handed the reins of the team while guards Braulio Morais (injured), Edson Ndoniema, as well as Valdelicio Joaquim, will not play at the upcoming tournament. 

Possible Outcome: For an experienced team like Angola, a place in the Quarter-Finals is a must. From there, anything is possible.