24 August, 2021
05 September
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AfroBasket 2021 - Team Profile: Democratic Republic of Congo

KINSHASA (DR Congo) - Ever since the Democratic Republic of Congo won the inaugural FIBA AfroCan in 2019 in Bamako, there's been a sense of new continental giant in the making. Can the Congolese capitalise from their AfroCan feat?

DR Congo head into the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 with the idea of making the most out of their appearance at FIBA Africa’s flagship event.

They also come with a tag as the team that won the first FIBA AfroCan two years back. Though the roster looks quite different, the Leopards are out to roar. And they want it to be as loud as possible this time in Kigali, Rwanda from August 24 to September 5.

Should they make it to the podium, the likes of Jordan Sakho and Omari Gudul would accomplish what no other DR Congo squad has done before.

And looking at their numbers, they can cause some trouble along the way, provided they live up to their talent.

With a 3-3 run during the Qualifiers, DR Congo appear capable of the best and the worst simultaneously. Except they won't be allowed any mistake in Kigali. And they are aware of that.

Here are some key elements about DR Congo

Team: DR Congo
FIBA Ranking Men
: 81st (World); 11th (Africa)
Last participation at AfroBasket: 2017 (2 wins, 2 defeats; 6th place)
Best result at AfroBasket: 6th (2017)
How they qualified for the 2021 AfroBasket: DR Congo punched their tickets to this year's AfroBasket by finishing as runners-up to Tunisia in Group A with a 3-3 run. They lost twice to Tunisia and once against Central African Republic (CAF) while netting three victories against CAF and Madagascar.

World: DR Congo have never featured at the FIBA Basketball World Cup nor the Olympics.

History/Qualification: DR Congo qualified for their sixth FIBA AfroBasket appearance (1995, 2005, 2007, 2015 and 2017).

Key players: DR Congo have a pool of players who stand out and step up when it comes to making a difference. These include Ruphin Kayembe, the team's top-scorer with a total of 69 points during the Qualifiers, alongside Myck Kabongo Lukasa (63 points, and 21 rebounds), and Jordan Sakho (47 points, and 57 rebounds).

Jordan Sakho

Rising star: At only 24 years of age, Jordan Sakho is one to watch out for during the upcoming tournament.

With an average of 9.5 boards during the six games, the 2.07 cm (6ft 9in) center, who plies his trade in Spain for Hereda San Pablo Burgos, has brought a valuable contribution to his side's defense.

New addition: With an average 9.7 points per game, Ron Mvouika's impact on the offensive side of the Congolese cannot be overlooked. The 1.93cm (6 ft4in) forward might have earned his place for the trip to Kigali during this period.

Mathias Eckhoff has to find the perfect mix in Kigali

Head coach: African champion  in 2015 with Nigeria as assistant coach to Will Voigt, Norwegian Mathias Eckhoff accepted the DR Coaching job right at the start of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers, and has been in charge ever since.

But before his current job, Eckoff rejoined Voigt as assistant coach of Angola during the FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers 2019. 

Will he come up with the perfect mix for the now-quadrennial rendez-vous?

Outlook: Drawn in Group A alongside hosts Rwanda, record-holders Angola, and ambitious Cape Verde, DR Congo will have to step up when it comes to facing their opponents in Kigali. They must not be overconfident for fear of getting ousted out earlier than they expect.