24 August, 2021
05 September
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AfroBasket 2021 - Team Profile: Guinea

DAKAR (Senegal) - Guinea improved five places in FIBA's last World Ranking (February 2021), but can they maintain their momentum at FIBA AfroBasket 2021?

Four years ago, Guinea returned to the AfroBasket thanks to an invitation, but this time around, they earned it.

This is a team that blends veteran and talented newcomers, and are coached by Zeljko Zecevic - a man who knows African basketball like few do.

Here are some key elements about Guinea.

Team: Guinea.
FIBA Ranking Men
: 122 (World); 21 (Africa).
Last participation in the AfroBasket: 2017 (3 defeats; 16th-Place).
Best result at AfroBasket: Fouth-Place finish at the five-nation African Championship 1962 held in Cairo.
How they qualified for the 2021 AfroBasket: By finishing third in Group of the Qualifiers (1-5).
World: Guinea have never featured at world stage competitions.  
Youth teams impact: A year ago, Guinea had a promising start to the FIBA U18 African Championship. And their 63-60 win over favorite and eventual champions Mali on Day 2 of the competition seemed to be the push they needed, but it was a short-lived success as the Guinean finished fourth in the four-nation tournament with a 1-4 mark.

History/Qualification: The FIBA AfroBasket 2017 marked Guinea's first appearance in the tournament in more than 32 years.

After an impressive Qualifiers campaign, in which they stunned Senegal, Guinea finished the regional play-off tied with Mali (3-3) in second place, but the Guineans fell short of automatic qualification for Final the Round due to a lower goal-average. Senegal and Mali secured automatic, Cape Verde were eliminated, but Guinea were awarded a wild card - along with Rwanda.

Key Players: Ever since Cedric Mansare made his Guinea debut in the AfroBasket Qualifiers 2017, the 35-year-old guard has become the go-to man for Guinea.

Mansare not only averaged 11.5 points per game during the Qualifiers, but when his country needed him most, he delivered a top performance.

Cedric Mansare 

With Guinea needing to beat Equatorial Guinea in the final day of the Qualifiers, Mansare sank four of his eight three-pointers attempts to finish with a team-high 18 points in the 80-71 victory.

Joining Mansare as Guinea central players, were 2.05m (6ft 9in) power forward Ousmane Drame, who contributed 8.2 rebounds in six games,  and guard Ahmed Doumbia. 

Rising Star: Kabinet Kabe (17) and Mambourou Mara (18) were vital for Guinea at last year's FIBA U18 African Championship. Isn't the AfroBasket 2021 the right stage to fuel their development as players? 

New addition: Ahmed Doumbia has only played the last three games of the Qualifiers, but he was immense for Guinea, averaging 13 points and 5.7 assists. 

Ahmed Doumbia

Doumbia had last featured for Guinea during the FIBA Basketball World 2019 African Qualifiers, but with Guinea on the brink of elimination, Doumbia explained why he couldn't miss such opportunity. "We want to bring our flag to the AfroBasket, putting our country on the basketball map. This is my main motivation," he told FIBA.basketball.

Head coach: Serbian Zeljko Zecevic replaced Frenchman Michel Perrin at the helm ahead of the decisive last window of the Qualifiers in February 2021. 

As well coaching Egypt at AfroBasket 2009, Zecevic has managed a number of African clubs.

Some of his coaching highlights on the continent of African include a Second-Place in the 2019 FIBA AfroLeague at the helm of Morocco's AS Sale.

Zecevic propelled US Monastir to the Third-Place of the FIBA Africa Champions 2017.

More recently, he coached Guinea at FIBA U18 African Championship 2020 held in Cairo.

Outlook: In their return to the FIBA AfroBasket festival four years ago, Guinea finished winless after defeats to Rwanda, Cameroon and eventual champions Tunisia.

They will face a tough task when the AfroBasket 2021 gets underway in Kigali later this month.

Drawn in Group B alongside Central African Republic, Egypt and Tunisia seems to be quite a challenge for a team aiming to moving out of the Group Phase, which should be noted, it's not impossible, but it will require Guinea at their very best to compete against three former AfroBasket champions.

Being the lowest-ranked of the 16-team AfroBasket 2021 line-up should be motivating to prove doubters wrong.