It's #AfricaLeague 2019 FINAL Day - D'Agosto or AS Sale?
LUANDA (Angola) - Only one African club retained their African crown once or more in the last two decades, but Association Sportive de Salé on Sunday will try to become the first to win two straight continental titles since 2013.
It's a challenge that the Moroccans have been preparing carefully for ever since they defeated hosts Etoile Sportive de Rades of Tunisia in December 2017.
Now, their next opponent goes by the name of Primeiro D'Agosto - a team regarded as Africa's most successful club after winning eight titles, including four titles in a row (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) before repeating their success two more times (2012 and 2013).
Ahead of Sunday's FIBA Africa Basketball League (ABL) 2019 Final facts and numbers suggest several similarities between AS Sale and D'Agosto.
While the Angolans head to the Championship Game with a respectable 6-0 record, equally undefeated AS Sale register a 5.5-0, which resulted from five wins and a 69-all draw against Nigerian side Civil Defenders Basketball in the ELITE 8 knock out stage in March in Abuja.
Each team counts with the service of five national team players; both coaches, 1992 Olympian Paulo Macedo and Zeljko Zecevic master the game in the continent.
AS Sale’s head coach Zeljko Zecevic seems to warn @clube1deagosto’s coach Paulo Macedo: ‘We will defend our No.1 rank in #Africa in Sunday’s @AfricaLeague 2019 #Final‘ while @MalickDaho takes note.— Júlio Chitunda (@JChitunda) May 25, 2019
Who you got? D’Agosto or #ASSale? pic.twitter.com/4R5gearXae
Yet, what makes Sunday's Final even more appealing is the fact that this is the first FIBA Africa Cup's Final that counts on with four former MVPs: D'Agosto's Eduardo (2014) and Manny Quezada (2015) and AS Sale's Wayne Arnold (2016) and Abdelhakim Zouita (2017).
It's OVER! 🇦🇴 @clube1deagosto upset Hosts @petroatletico 70-57 in the first-leg of the #Elite8!— Africa Basketball League (@AfricaLeague) March 22, 2019
Manny Quezada gets a career-high 36 PTS 🔥🔥 & breaks the record for MOST points scored in a game!! #AfricaLeague
📊 Boxscore: https://t.co/zVxotn9JjQ pic.twitter.com/Esx5x7y9r6
And the quartet has been exceptionally great this season and are expected to be (one way or another) a factor on Sunday.
"Our first priority was to reach the Final, now that we did, we raised our ambition and we want to win the trophy," Macedo said.
Meanwhile, Zecevic noted that: "We are angry to defend our title. We have an experienced roster and we'll do everything we can to take the trophy to Morocco."
If AS Sale beat D'Agosto they will become the first non-Angolan outfit to win a continental trophy in Angola.
Can the Moroccans lift FIBA Africa's solo clubs' competition top prize in front of Angolan fans? In recent years, Morocco's clubs and/or national team have been Angola's dark horse.
Four years ago, FES Rabat dared to beat D'Agosto 72-62 in the Third-Place game in Luanda. To continue their rise to stardom Morocco national team, whose core plays for AS Sale, inflicted Angola a huge blow during a FIBA AfroBasket 2017 Group Phase encounter.
But, the last time D’Agosto and AS Sale faced each other the Angolans prevailed 85-73 in Group A of the FIBA Africa Champions Cup 2010 in Cotonou, Benin.