24 August, 2021
05 September
to read

AfroBasket 2021 - Team Profile: Angola

LUANDA (Angola) - The inevitable question about Angola is whether or not they can bounce back from their poor display at the last edition of the FIBA AfroBasket where they finished seventh.

Drawn in Group A alongside hosts Rwanda, Cape Verde and DR Congo, Angola face a new reality as they have never experienced three consecutive AfroBasket without a title.

After finishing runners-up to Nigeria in 2015, Angola saw their former head coach Mario Palma propel Tunisia to their second AfroBasket in 2017. 

Since winning their last African title in 2013, Angola have signed four new coaches (Moncho Lopez, Manuel Silva, Will Voigt and Jose Neto), but becoming the team that once dominated African basketball seems to be harder and harder. 

Here are some key elements about Senegal.

Team: Angola.
FIBA Ranking Men
: 33rd (World); 2nd (Africa).
Last participation in the AfroBasket: 2017 (2 wins, 2 losses; 7th-place).
Best result at AfroBasket: African champions in 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2013.
How they qualified for the 2021 AfroBasket: Finished second in Group  B of the Qualifiers with a 4-2 record.
World: Due to their comprehensive AfroBasket success over the last three decades, Angola qualified automatically to five straight Olympic Games (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008).

The eleven-time African champions made their FIBA Basketball World Cup debut in 1986 in Spain. Angola have missed only one (1998) of the last eight editions of the tournament. 

Youth teams impact: Although Angola youth teams have registered modest results over the past few years, the Southern African nation has won the FIBA U18 African Championship (2016) and FIBA U16 African Championship in the last decade.

History/Qualification: Angola debuted in the African Championship in 1980, five years after its independence from Portugal. Since then, Angola have featured in the last twenty editions of the tournament. 

Key Players: Carlos Morais and Leonel Paulo are the most experienced players in the current Angolan squad. While Morais has played seven and won four AfroBasket (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2013), Paulo made his national team debut at the Beijing Olympics 2008 and has helped Angola to two African Championship titles (2009 and 2013).

Morais was named the MVP of AfroBasket 2013.

Rising Star: Childe Dundao - winner of the FIBA U18 African Championship 2016 - and Aboubakar Gakou, who was named MVP of the Angolan Basketball League 2021, could make their AfroBasket in Kigali. The two teammates at Petro de Luanda emerge as some of top newcomers in the Angolan basketball ranks.

Childe Dundao

New addition: Although Jone Pedro has played for his country at the FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers 2019, this son of former Angolan international Adriano Baiao is yet to feature at FIBA Africa's premier basketball tournament. 

In a recent interview with FIBA.basketball, 2.09m (6ft 10in) Pedro noted that: "People will say that [Group A] doesn't look that hard, but I don't get comfortable when it comes to this. You can't control something that didn't happen yet. So the best we can do as a team is to be as prepared as possible for everything. In regards to my personal goals, I intend to be the best version of myself." 

Head coach: Spaniard Josep 'Pepe' Claros was appointed Angola head coach after the agreement with Brazilian Jose Neto came to an end in February. Neto led Angola during FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers in November and February 2021.

According to FAB, Claros' agreement with the former African champions will run until the end of this year's AfroBasket.

Claros becomes the second Spaniard to coach Angolan after his countryman Moncho Lopez powered Angola to the Second-Place at 2015 FIBA AfroBasket.

It will be Claro's first African basketball experience. 

In December 2014, the Barcelona native had reached an agreement to coach Egypt, but the two parts terminated the deal even before Claros travelled to Cairo.

As well as leading a number of clubs in North, Central and South America and Asia, Claros has coached the national teams of El Salvador and Mexico. 

Outlook: Alarm bells rang when Angola finished seventh at AfroBasket 2017, in what was one of their poorest results in the history of the competition.

Angola's AfroBasket result four years ago could only be compared to the early 1980s when the country started building their basketball programmes. After finishing seventh in 1980, Angola dropped to eighth in the following edition of the African Championship (1981), but they responded in strong terms reaching the AfroBasket Final 14 times.

Angola last lifted the AfroBasket trophy in 2013 in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire 

Angola head to Kigali with a new coach, and a number of newcomers. This AfroBasket will be a experience like no other for a country that dominated African basketball for almost three decades.

They have the potential to reach the knock-out stages, but winning the trophy will require more than being Africa's No.2 team.