Follow the World Cup on Facebook
Angola's Moore: ''Finishing my national team career at the World Cup would be my dream scenario''
LUANDA (FIBA Basketball World 2019 African Qualifiers) - Reggie Moore is urging Angolan fans to show up in big numbers to help his country at the upcoming second leg of Group E of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers in Luanda.
From November 30 to December 2, the Angolan capital will see six countries - Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia - doing battle to determine at least one of the places on offer for African countries for next year's World Cup in China.
In the fourth window, Nigeria and Tunisia became the first two teams from Africa to qualify for the World Cup. There are three more tickets to play for in the African Qualifiers
Moore, a key member of the Angolan national team in recent years, hopes to live yet another special occasion with the former African champions.
"THE WORLD CUP IS JUST A CELEBRATION OF HARD WORK. AT SPAIN 2014, WE HAD SOME BIG CHANCES TO BEAT SOME REALLY GOOD TEAMS. WE BEAT AUSTRALIA AND WE WERE CLOSE IN OTHER GAMES (LITHUANIA, SLOVENIA). WHEN WE PLAY OUR BEST, WE CAN PLAY WITH MOST TEAMS IN THE WORLD."
And although the Angolans rank second in Group E - behind already-qualified Tunisia - with fifteen points, Moore insists that there is no reason to underestimate their immediate contenders Cameroon and Egypt.
The 6ft 8in (2.03m) forward stresses that Angolan fans attending the games could make a tremendous difference.
Group E teams that finish in the first two places qualify automatically for the first-ever 32-team World Cup, while the best third-placed team from across Groups E and F will complete the five-team African lineup at FIBA's flagship competition.
Talking to FIBA.basketball, Moore noted: "We're looking forward to this challenge. We know everybody is going to come out and support us. Right now we're putting in a hard preparation. We can't wait for November 30 to come. We have been working hard to make the country proud. Everything is in a good position for us to qualify. Now it's up to the players to get the job done."
An Angolan international for the last five years, Moore has experienced joy, frustration and hope in the country's colors.
While the 37-year-old helped the Southern African nation win FIBA AfroBasket 2013, and was also instrumental in the All-African Games 2015 title, he also felt the pain of finishing runners-up at that year's AfroBasket.
Two years ago he experienced the agony of Angola missing out on the Olympics for the second time in a row - after five successive appearances - as they missed out on the Rio 2016 Games when coming up short at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia.
Yet he remains optimistic for better days, although his own days in the Angolan jersey may be numbered.
Angola are aiming for a fifth consecutive World Cup appearance
"I want to have the opportunity to represent the national team of Angola one more time. And I want this to be the last time in Angola with 12,000 people watching and we can get it done," Moore revealed.
"I want this to be the celebration of not only my career with the national team but also the hard work of everybody that we've put on this team. And to finish my national team career in the World Cup in China would be my dream scenario. [If we qualify] The World Cup will probably be my last games with the national team."
Asked to evaluate Angola's next opponents, Moore described Cameroon as the most talented of all, acknowledged Tunisia's team effort and warned Chad as a team to be taken seriously.
"[Cameroon] That's the key game to start off these three games," he said. "That's the game that is really going to decide for us to qualify because they are right there with us in the group. They have even more talent than Tunisia. Tunisia play better together, but talent wise, Cameroon is the most talented team.
"Chad is the team, if you don't play hard from the beginning, it's going to be a tough game. They are a team if you give them an opportunity they take advantage of it.
"Tunisia are the champions of Africa, that's the team to beat. But first, we have to get Cameroon and Chad out of the way."
For a man who has made his World Cup debut four years ago in Spain, the China 2019 showpiece [if, as he likes to emphasize, Angola qualifies] has to be a game-changer for Angolan basketball.
"[The World Cup] is just a celebration of hard work. [In 2014] We had some big chances to beat some really good teams. We beat Australia, we were close on pretty much all the games (Lithuania, Slovenia)," he recalled. "When we play our best, we can play with most of the teams in the world, we showed it out there.
"That was a start and a good showing as a team. This time around, I just don't want to hang around with those teams, I want to beat some good teams. We have the players, we have the coaching staff to do that."
Six wins in nine World Cup Qualifier games might seem a decline for a country that dominated African basketball for more than three decades, but Moore is the first to admit that everything needs to be improved upon.
"With the new system that we have, every window we have shown improvement in some areas - shooting, defensive intensity and communication on the defensive end. In this last window, we have to continue to show improvement in those areas, mostly our outside shooting and communication on defense. Those are the two keys for us. Along with that, we need to cut down on turnovers."
Historically, Moore is one of few Americans to gain Angolan citizenship, having done so in 2013. The experience, he says, couldn't be any better.
"ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I WAS GIVEN [ANGOLAN] CITIZENSHIP WAS BECAUSE OF THE WAY I ADJUSTED TO LIFE IN ANGOLA. I HAVE A LOT OF PRIDE AND A LOT OF RESPECT FOR THE COUNTRY."
"One of the reasons why I was given [Angolan] citizenship was because of the way I adjusted to life in Angola It was very easy for me," he said. "I had played in Spain, Portugal, all over the world, but I never really found a place that I wanted to stay and make a life.
"The places where I played was always about moving to the next step, moving to the next country. I never really felt super comfortable anywhere like Angola. I adjusted fairly easily. I pretty much knew the first year I was here and this is where I am going to end my career.
"Ten years later, I am playing for the national team, still the place I call home, probably the place where I'm going to spend most of the rest of my life. I have a family here. That's probably why they felt comfortable to give me citizenship and that's why I accepted it. I have represented the national team since Day 1. I have a lot of pride and a lot of respect for the country."