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Nine back for Mali in return to global stage
BAMAKO (FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017) - Mali head coach Kaba Kante selected nine players from the FIBA U18 Africa Championship 2016 team that helped the country qualify for their first FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup since 2007.
Kante has named Namakan Traore the captain of his team, which will take on Canada, Japan and Spain in Group C in Cairo from 1-9 July. Traore was more of a role player last summer when Mali finished third in Africa to book their ticket for the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup.
Mali's leading scorer last summer was Ousmane Traore with 13.9 points a game and he is back with the team as is Blaise Keita, who was the third-leading scorer and second-best rebounder. Sekou Dembele topped the team in rebounds while Lassana Haidara dished out the most assists on the team.
|Mali's roster for the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017|
|Mahamoud Balayira||Ibrahim Camara||Sekou Dembele||Martin Diakite|
|Oumar Drame||Lassana Haidara||Blaise Keita||Badra Samake|
|Ichaka Samake||Moulaye Sissoko||Namakan Traore||Ousmane Traore|
While nine of the players on the squad for Cairo played at the FIBA U18 Africa Championship 2016, three of them - Keita, Haidara and Moulaye Sissoko - also appeared in Mali's debut at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup last summer in Zaragoza. Keita topped the U17 team in rebounds and was second in scoring while Haidara was second in assists and third in scoring.
Added to that group are three players who will be making their national team debuts in Mahamoud Balayira, Martin Diakite and Oumar Drame - the latter joining Haidara, Keita and Sissoko as bottom level players being born in 1999.
Diakite meanwhile was born in 2000 and has dual citizenship from France and Mali. He plays with the French academy Hermine in Nantes and first tried out for the Mali national team during the Christmas break last winter and made Kante's team for Cairo.