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13 - 23
July 2023
22/07/2023
Review
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Unstoppable Mali bag eighth consecutive U16 African title, Angola finish third 

 

MONASTIR (Tunisia) - Dominance, experience, resilience; whatever word fits, Mali have mastered the art of winning the 2023 FIBA U16 Women's African Championship in Monastir, Tunisia.

In this year’s competition that concluded on Saturday, July 22, the Moussa Sidibe-coached Mali bagged their eighth title in a dramatic Final against Egypt, a match that ended 57-56. 

The two sides have now met in six Finals since the championship was launched in 2009 and in all, Egypt have either been fully dominated or come close. 

Saturday's Final was one for the books, the closest Egypt have come to dethroning Mali since the sides' 62-61 outcome in the 2013 Final in Maputo. 

Mali gave themselves a good start after a 21-9 lead in the first quarter but Egypt returned better for the second period going 18-15 up to cut their deficit to 9. 

Fans were in for an entertaining second half, one that saw Egypt fight for a 16-12 win in the third quarter for the match to head to the crucial fourth quarter with the score reading 48-43. 

Dramatic does not begin to describe the final period. Egypt rallied on to level the score at 50 with five and a half minutes to go after a seven-point scoring spree. 

Assitan Diarisso shot from behind the arc to make it 53-50 for Mali but their lead was shortlived as Injy Amr responded immediately with a trey of her own to level the score again.

Haya Alhalawany gave Egypt the lead for the first time at 55-53 with a mid-range jumper but Salimata Camara brought Mali right back with a two-point jump shot. 

The last one and a half minute of the game was tense; fans from both ends held their breath for the final outcome as it was anyone's game at this point.

Egypt had treated the fans to a mesmerising comeback, but could they hold on for the win? 

Oumou Kadidia, with an opportunity to take Mali ahead missed twice from the free-throw line. After a series of turnovers and missed shots, Joudy Elbaz stepped on the same line, the chance to seal the match for Egypt in her hands as only 23 seconds remained on the clock. 

Elbaz missed the second free-throw with Awa Bathe getting the rebound to give her team a fighting chance. 

Tenin Diarra missed her shot on the paint, Kadidia kept Mali's hopes alive after picking the rebound 15 seconds to the final whistle.

The ball found its way to Salimata who was fouled on her way up and she had the chance to reclaim the lead, a job she did perfectly taking the score to 57-56 with six seconds on the clock. 

Egypt went for a strategizing timeout, inbounding the ball on Mali's half. Yasmin Ahmed rose for a three-point shot that would have sunk Mali, subjecting them to their first defeat in an U16 Women’s Final had it connected. 

However, it bounced off the rim and Mali were on hand for the rebound just as the final whistle went. 

Diarisso led the scoring for Sidibe's charges with 19 in just over 30 minutes as Fatoumata Dembele added 12. Malak made 14 for Egypt as the side's top scorer. 

ANGOLA OVERPOWER HOSTS FOR PODIUM FINISH

Ana Servico was on fire as she bagged 24 points, 10 rebounds and 5 steals in just over 38 minutes on the floor to fire Angola to a 50-43 win for third-place over Tunisia. 

Angola, who were making a return to the competition having missed the 2021 event, managed to repeat their 2019 heroics where they won bronze, finishing behind Mali and Egypt. 

This is the fifth time Angola finished third, their best placing coming in 2017 when they won silver. They have finished fifth once. 

Francisco Chauangue's charges had a good start in the third-place playoff to take a 12-8 lead adding 18 points in the second quarter against the host's 12 for a 10-point lead.

The final half was closely contested with both sides tied for 8 in the third quarter for the difference to remain. Tunisia outscored Angola 15-12 in the final period but it was too little too late for a win. 

FIBA