24 August, 2021
05 September
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AfroBasket 2021 - Team Profile: Cape Verde

PRAIA (Cape Verde) - Are Cape Verde setting the bar high when they look ahead of the upcoming FIBA AfroBasket 2021?

The Islanders are retuning to FIBA Africa's flagship tournament for the first time since the 2015 edition of the AfroBasket, where they started out with a 3-0 run - wins over Cote d'Ivoire, Algeria and Zimbabwe - but, somehow, lost to Gabon and Cameroon to finish 10th.

Now, they say, it's time show that they can compete against any team and aim to move out of the Group Phase and cause some upset in the tournament. 

Here are some key elements about Cape Verde:

Team: Cape Verde
FIBA Ranking Men
95th (World); 14th (Africa)
Last participation in the AfroBasket: 2015 (3 wins, 2 defeats; 10th place)
Best result at AfroBasket: Third-Place at AfroBasket 2007
How they qualified for the 2021 AfroBasket - After losing the Pre-Qualifiers two-game series to Algeria (169-166 on aggregate) in January 2020 in Algiers, Cape Verde reemerged stronger than never for the three-nation Invitational Tournament in October 2020 in Yaounde, where they beat South Sudan and Chad to secure the last ticket available for the AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers.

Cape Verde finished third in Group E of the Qualifiers, behind group winners Egypt and second-placed Uganda.   
World: By finishing third at AfroBasket 2007, Cape Verde qualified for the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Athens, where they lost both games to Dirk Nowitzki-led Germany and New Zealand. The OQT was the Islanders' only world stage appearance. 
Youth teams impact: Ever since former Cape Verde international player Mario Correia became the President of Cape Verde Basketball Federation, youth basketball programmes in the archipelago has been one of their priorities. And, hosting the 2019 FIBA U16 African Championship - despite a 1-6 run - was a clear example of the country's bet on younger generations.

History/Qualification: This year's African Championship will Cape Verde's seventh appearance in the tournament history (1997, 1999, 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2015).

Key Players: Numbers don't lie. A quick look into Cape Verde's recent games, and it becomes clear why Ivan Almeida, his brother Joel, and Jeff Xavier have become the engine of this Cape Verde team. The trio have featured at AfroBasket before, and they aim to put the country's name right at the same level as the continent powerhouses.

Although the Almeida brothers and Xavier have been vital to the Islanders, 37-year-old shooting guard Fidel Mendonca - a three-point specialist - remains an important member of the team also.

Rising Star: At the time of this writing, Cape Verde tested a number of young players during their training camp. Whether or not they will make the final roster, it remains to be seen. 

The likes of Anim Delgado, Hugo Correia Silva, Alwyn Silva, Junior Delgado, Patrick Junior Spencer 'Giannis', Flavio Fonseca and Hugo Silva represent some of Cape Verde's best young players. 

New addition: Walter 'Edy' Tavares has never hidden his dream of returning to his national team. The seven-footer center, who plays for Spain's giants Real Madrid, last featured for his native Cape Verde at AfroBasket 2013 in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.

Walter Tavares

According to the team, Tavares rejoined the team last month as Cape Verde expected to face Uganda in the last game of Group E of the Qualifiers. Tavares, a terrific shot blocker and rebounder, could be a massive addition to Cape Verde for the Kigali showdown.

Head coach: Emanuel Trovoada has a long history with Cape Verde. The Angolan-born first served as assistant coach to Cape Verde in the First Round of AfroBasket 1999. He took the head coach role in the Second Round, replacing Claude Constantine, who experienced health issues during the tournament.

Emanuel Trovoada

It was under Trovoada that Cape Verde achieved their best result - Third-Place - at AfroBasket 2007.

Trovoada was part of Angola coaching staff on several occasions, including the 2012 OQT in Caracas, Venezuela. He coached Angola during the 2015 AfroBasket Qualifiers in Harare, Zimbabwe before serving as assistant coach to Moncho Lopez in the 2015 edition of the African Championship in Tunis, Tunisia.

Outlook: Cape Verdeans are optimistic and hard working by nature, and when one asks about their chances at AfroBasket 2021, the answers is "We are not going to the African Championship to make up numbers. We have a flag to defend." That assertion is replicated by Trovoada. "My message to my team has always been the same. We can compete anybody. We are going to Kigali to win."

Being drawn alongside hosts Rwanda, Angola and DR Congo seems theoretically challenging for Cape Verde, however, if Tavares, Almeida, Xavier and Sekouba Conde are healthy and available, Cape Verde could cause some upsets in Kigali.