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Ruthless Cote d'Ivoire beat Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea's AfroBasket dream on the right path
YAOUNDE (Cameroon) - Cote d'Ivoire showed on Sunday in Yaounde that they are a real deal, and Equatorial Guinea added a major boost in their aspirations of qualifying for their first-ever FIBA AfroBasket.
Who would have thought that a 39-year-old who had last played for his country almost five years ago had plenty in the tank?
That's exactly what Stephane Konate did. He powered ruthless Cote d'Ivoire with a game-high 25 points as they upset hosts Cameroon 82-74 in the final day of the first-leg of Group of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers.
After scoring 18 points against Equatorial Guinea, Konate was a key factor yet again.
Konate hit seven three-pointers, finished with a joint team-best seven rebounds as Cote d'Ivoire made Cameroon look helpless in the highly-anticipated game of the tournament.
The Ivorians led by as many as 17 points, never trailed, and even though Cameroon won the rebounding battle (49-44), Konate and Co stayed composed under Cameroon's comeback attempts.
Joining Konate in the scoring sheet were Deon Thompson, Guy Edi and Vafessa Fofana who combined for 43 Cote d'Ivoire points.
The Cameroonians never looked the team that averaged 90 points in the first two games against Guinea and Equatorial.
With Benoit Mbala leading the way with team-highs 13 points and 14 points, Cameroon lacked scoring options.
And they needed to call on Aziz Nkene off the bench to change the course of the game. In just ten minutes, Nkene contributed 10 points and seven rebounds, but the damaged was already.
In the process, Cote d'Ivoire closed the first-leg of Group C undefeated in three games while Cameroon might be trying to find answers to their inconsistency.
Meanwhile, in the first game of the day Equatorial had a sigh of relief after beating Equatorial 82-75.
After averaging 61 points in the first two games, Equatorial Guinea hit a milestone of 82, and put them in a pole position to battle for one of Group C three spots for next year's AfroBasket in Kigali.
It was a huge win for a team that could only use eight players in three players due to administrative issues.
Walter Cabral, Sebastian Obiang, Kingsley Obiekwe Sam and Oscar Mifumu combined for a staggering 73 Equatorial Guinea points while Ousmane Drame's 19 points and 12 rebounds made little difference in the losing cause.
Group C standings after three games (February 2020):
1. Cote d'Ivoire (3-0)
2. Cameroon (2-1)
3. Equatorial Guinea (1-2)
4. Guinea (0-3)