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9 Tylor Ongwae (KEN)
Julio Chitunda's African Message
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The most incredible moment in the last window of AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers

LEEDS (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - There's been a number of incredible moments in the last window of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers, but the Angola vs Kenya game sets itself apart from the other 41 games played from February 17-21.

On one side, Angola, eleven-time African champions, No.2 team in Africa, according to FIBA World Rankings. On the other, No. 20 on the continent, Kenya, a team that entered the Qualifiers looking to erase an almost three-decade long absence from Africa's premier basketball event.

Angola headed to Yaounde on the back of a 2-1 record from the First Round of Group B of the Qualifiers played three months earlier in Kigali, while Kenya travelled to the Cameroonian capital 1-2 thanks to a win over Mozambique.

For Angola, one win would be good enough to finish in the top three places of their group and advance to the Final Round to be held from August 24 to September 5 in the Rwandan capital. 

For Kenya, the situation was somehow, a bit trickier, as Mozambique appeared to be their main contender in their quest to the Kigali showdown. 

At first, and for those unaware of Kenya's progress in recent years, nothing predicted this would become the biggest upset in the Qualifiers, but that's not how Team Morans approached it.

"After our loss to Senegal a day earlier, our game plan was to put all our focus on Angola since you can never know what's coming against Mozambique in the last game," Griffin Ligare has said to FIBA.basketball.

Some significant changes from their November 26th, 2020 meeting proved crucial for Kenya as they added size and valuable scouting report. 

Tom Wamukota (2.13m), Joel Awich (2.01m) and Preston Bungei (1.98m), who sat out their meeting in Kigali, combined for 36 Kenya points in the win against Angola. Head coach Elizabeth Mills, who took charge for Cliff Owor who couldn't travel with the team, added her deep knowledge of the Angolan team, and history was made.

Even before losing to Senegal for a second time in the Qualifiers, Kenya always believed they were able to beat top-ranked Angola.

During a timeout later in the fourth, Mills is heard pushing her players to go and "Make History". Mills' speech was probably the last spark Kenyan players needed.

And, with less than seven seconds left, and with Angola leading 73-72, Kenyans couldn't have made a better decision of passing the ball to the right hands.

Tylor Ongwae fakes a midrange shot, defender Gerson Lukeny Goncalves falls for it, shwaaaaah. Ball in. The rest is history.

KENYA HAVE BEATEN ANGOLA AT THE BUZZER! shouted the the livebasketball.tv commentator.

Ongawe - who was only two years of age when his country last played at AfroBasket as hosts in 1993 - ended up mobbed by his teammates, and the Morans became national heroes.

For a team that won silver in the inaugural FIBA AfroCan two years earlier in Bamako and sealed their first AfroBasket ticket in almost 28 years, the buzzer-beater win over Angola was probably the highest moment in their basketball history.


Did the better team win? Sure they did, no about about that. The Kenyans were more focused on winning the game, they handled the ball better, and took advantage of Angola's permissive defense.  

Kenya are on the rise and, if they are capable of building on this win, the future is bright for the East Africans.

Kenya now have added their name to lower-ranked teams who defeated Angola in the last four years. Uganda almost upset Angola at AfroBasket 2017, but Carlos Morais rescued the Angolans when they needed him most.

Kenya join Morocco (2017 and 2018) and DR Congo (2018) as Angola's heartbreakers. 

Julio Chitunda

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.