Morais: "We are alive and ready for the fight"
DAKAR (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - Angola were so inconsistent in the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 Group Phase in Dakar, that Carlos Morais believes that they have learned from their mistakes and are prepared to turn things around.
Two wins over the Central African Republic (CAF) and Uganda followed by a historic defeat to Morocco, led the Angolans to finish as Group B runners-up.
"We have to remain focused and try to win the next game." - Morais
Nevertheless, Sunday night's 66-44 triumph over the Central African Republic, which ensured the Angolans a place in the Quarter-Finals in Tunis, was what Morais describes as a "turning-point".
“It was a huge victory for us, especially because we didn’t play well in the first two games [against Uganda and Morocco]. The key to our victory over the Central African Republic was our focus and we made fewer mistakes," the 6ft3 (1.91m) guard explained to FIBA.basketball.
Angola entered the contest against CAF knowing that a defeat would send them home, so they came up with an aggressive and suffocating defense that totally disrupted the Central Africans.
They contested most Central African shots, forcing them to miss all their eleven field goals in the second quarter.
"This victory put us back on the championship race," Morais noted.
"We have to remain focused and try to win the next game, regardless of the opponent."
Angola will go up against a tough Senegal in the Quarter-Finals in Tunisia.
Although Senegal and Angola have provided one of the biggest rivalries in African basketball in recent years, the former currently hold a 2-0 head-to-head edge over Angola (that mark increases to 3-0 if we include a preparation game in August 2015 in Spain).
Yet, Morais remains upbeat.
"We have shown a tremendous maturity against the Central Africans. We are growing as a team. We feel a lot more confident now, and I am sure we’ll play a lot better in the Quarter-Finals.
"We are alive and ready for the fight."
While questions about Angola's defeat to Morocco remained unanswered for some, Morais made sure to explain.
"We suffered from the high temperature within the gym; we didn’t play great defense and paid the price for it. However, credit must be given to Morocco, they were deserving winners,'' he said.