24 August, 2021
05 September
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AfroBasket 2021 - Team Profile: Central African Republic

BANGUI (Central African Republic) - Once a winner of the FIBA AfroBasket, the Central African Republic (CAF) have done everything they can to return to their glory days.

But, how can a country that conquered the continent twice find themselves overpowered in recent years? 

One big question, not many answers, if we except some maybes. Maybe because the other countries caught up. Or maybe because they are lacking focus. In any way, talent is not something that is missing for CAF, as saw as recently as during the FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers.

Apart from talent, they have shown that they can sometimes outplay their opponents, like when they forced reigning champions Tunisia to catch them up after the first quarter during the February Qualifying window.

CAF showed, during the same period, that they are capable of the exactly opposite. When they matched DR Congo, they did not have any resources left in the last quarter. This showed in their stats, where they only scored 5 points.

But still, the future looks bright for a team that has been reinventing itself. Back in 2017, they finished eleventh, far from what they aspired. For a country that has two African titles to its credit, CAF still inspires respect.

But will that be enough for them?

Key facts about Central African Republic ahead of this year's AfroBasket:

Team: Central African Republic
FIBA World Ranking: 78th (World), 10th (Africa)
Last participation at FIBA AfroBasket: 2017 (1 win, 2 losses; 11th place)
Best results in the history of FIBA AfroBasket: African Champions in 1974 and 1987
How they qualified for FIBA AfroBasket 2021: Qualified by finishing third in Group A, with 3 wins and 3 losses
World: CAF's only FIBA Basketball World Cup appearance happened in 1974 in San Juan, Puerto Rico when they finished 14th.  And, as winners of 1987 African Championship, CFA represented the continent at 1998 Seoul Olympics. 

History/Qualifications: CAF have quite a piece of history at AfroBasket. They won the FIBA Africa's flagship competition twice in 1974 and  1987. In 2017, they were finished at 11th place, climbing three steps in the hierarchy. But since their successful run three decades ago, they have not reached the Semi-Final stage of the tournament. 

Key player:
Evans Ganapamo is only 26 years old. But the 2.01m (6ft 7in) small forward might be the next big thing seen from CAF's point of view.

Evans Ganapamo

A leader in the making, he is among CAF's statistics leaders with 15 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in the Qualifiers. Most of all, he is one of the top minute-getters, with a total of 151 minutes on the court during the Qualifiers. Max Kouguere can rest easy: he has found his successor.

Young players' impact: CAF will head to Rwanda with 21-year-old Allan Julien Dokossi in their ranks. One of the youngest CAF players to participate in the FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers, he did not spare his efforts, doing a bit of everything when it came to helping his side book their tickets for Rwanda, with 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds on average.

On the other hand, Omega Ngaifei, with an average of 5 points and 2 rebounds during the Qualifiers, could be the youngest on the team.

Allan Dokossi could bring pace to the CAF's attack

Rising star: Allan Julien Dokossi might be only 21 years old. But the his numbers speak for themselves This could be his first FIBA AfroBasket and the start of a long love story with the tournament.

Head coach: Ulrich Marida. Under his leadership, CAF have sometimes been more than just a team. Three years ago, during the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, they forced a China-bound Senegal into doubt, even though the latter got the better of them with only a 5-point range (65-60). If he can come up with the same formula, CAF might be the outsider that everyone is waiting for.

Outlook: Things look a bit complicated for Evans Ganapamo and Co. Drawn alongside reigning champions Tunisia, Egypt, and Guinea in Group B, they will have to bring their A-game if they wish to cause an upset in the First Round.

Yet, they are adamant about their abilities.

And, if media reports about the return of veteran Romain Sato are anything to go  by, then the Central Africans have reasons to remain confident.