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Julio-Chitunda-Column
03/03/2014
Julio Chitunda's African Message
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And, the hosts of AfroBasket Men and Women 2015 are…

SHEFFIELD, (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - Judging by its recent basketball history, Tunisia is clearly the frontrunner to host AfroBasket 2015, while Cameroon would make history if attributed the hosting duties of AfroBasket Women 2015.

This week, Abidjan returns to African basketball's centre stage, as FIBA Africa will be announcing the host cities of both international tournaments.

I am reviewing the potential of each bid.

For Angola, who submitted bids to host both men's and women's tournaments, it is a nail-biting time, particularly after they pulled out their bid for the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship, which was attributed to Greece.

The country has the capacity to organise either tournament thanks to new facilities spread across the country - including the newly-built Arena Luanda - and the popularity of the game in the territory.

Angola hosted Africa's flagship event in 1999 and 2007, whereas Tunisia last held the tournament in 1987 and Central African Republic (CAF) has not staged it since 1974.

For Tunisia, playing host to the 2013 African Clubs Cup (ACC) in Sousse in December showed Africa how passionate its fan base is, as they attended games of the local team in considerable numbers.

Etoile Sportive du Sahel finished second behind Angolan club Primeiro D’Agosto.

If Tunisia's bid is to be successful, Sousse will be one of the cities selected to stage the tournament.

What might make the Tunisian bid quite appealing to FIBA Africa officials is the remarkable progress made and growing popularity of the men's national team in the past decade.

It went from being an average team in the mid-1990s to join the top three teams in 2009 and win AfroBasket 2011, which qualified Tunisia to its first Olympic appearance at the 2012 London Games.

And its youth teams have shown some grip too, especially after a silver medal accomplished at the 2010 FIBA Africa U18 Championship in Kigali, Rwanda.

However, Tunisia's ninth-place finish at AfroBasket 2013, which raised an inevitable question of its short-lived success, the attitude of fans throwing objects on the court in the final minutes of the ACC Final, and the consequences of the recent political revolution might cause the decision-makers to have second thoughts.

With that being said, the Central African Republic is, in my view, the least likely of the three candidates to host AfroBasket 2015 because of its political instability.

Angola is also bidding along with Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire to host AfroBasket Women 2015.

If Cameroon is to be attributed the organisation of next year's tournament, it would be the first time that a major African basketball tournament takes places in the country.

Its national team, the most impressive at the 12-team AfroBasket Women 2013, fell short to host Mozambique in the Semi-Final.

But head coach head coach Alain Zedong and his extremely competitive group of players showed passion, which may draw a new picture of African basketball in the coming years.

Hosting next summer's tournament, as coach Zedong told me in Maputo last September, would simply be the starting point.

But, first, Cameroon would need to convince officials that its bid has a vision for the growth of basketball in the country, and be better than its opponents.

Judging the three bids by what the countries have achieved in the past few years, I think the race is pretty much between the African champions Angola (hosts of the 1983 edition) and Cameroon, particularly because Cote d'Ivoire is the only country of the three that has recently held a top club competition (2012 African Clubs Cup Women) as well as AfroBasket 2013.

Where will the next editions of Africa's biggest national team basketball competitions be taking place? Let's wait and see what FIBA Africa is to decide this week.

And, if the frequency of hosting a tournament is not as relevant, then there will be surprises..

Julio Chitunda

FIBA

FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Julio Chitunda

Julio Chitunda

Julio Chitunda, a University of Sheffield alumni and former semi-professional player, has worked for a number of Portuguese media outlets as well as The Press Association and covered international basketball for over a decade. Through his column, he offers an insight into basketball on the world's second biggest continent.