Everything you need to know about the FIBA AfroBasket 2021
KIGALI (Rwanda) - The highly-anticipated FIBA AfroBasket 2021 is finally here as sixteen national teams from across Africa will do battle for the right to be crowned the continent champions.
In a year that FIBA Africa celebrates its 60th anniversary, there will be joy, there will be tears, and more importantly, there will be the celebration of the African basketball festival in Kigali, Rwanda.
From Tuesday, August 24 until Sunday, September 5, all eyes will be on the magnificent Kigali Arena.
FIBA.basketball brings you everything you need to know about the FIBA AfroBasket 2021.
All sixteen teams have been divided into four groups of four each as follows:
Group A: Rwanda (host), Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Cape Verde
Group B: Tunisia, Central African Republic, Egypt and Guinea
Group C: Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya and Mali
Group D: Senegal, Cameroon, South Sudan and Uganda
Click here for the schedule of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021.
The Group Phase's 24 games will be played from August 24 to 29. The winners of each group qualify automatically to the Quarter-Finals while the teams that finish second and third will compete for the remaining four spots in the Last Eight. The teams that finish last in their group will be eliminated.
Reigning champions Tunisia will look to become the first team to retain the AfroBasket crown since Angola held the trophy for six straight editions of the tournament from 1999 to 2009.
Tunisia leapfrogged Angola in the latest FIBA World Rankings to become the No.2 team in Africa behind Nigeria.
Tunisia won their second AfroBasket in 2017
The North African team has been impressive over the past few years, and it came as no surprise that Tunisia, who won their first African title in 2011, qualified for the Kigali showdown undefeated in six games.
NEW ERA OF AFROBASKET
Since the implementation of FIBA's new competition system in November 2017, the AfroBasket moved from a biennial to a quadrennial tournament, making the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 the first of the new era.
WHERE AND HOW TO WATCH THE FIBA AFROBASKET 2021
The Rwandan Basketball Federation (FERWANDA) announced recently that spectators will be allowed inside the arena as long as they comply with the implemented COVID-19 protocols.
Subscribers-only Livebasketball.tv ( www.livebasketball.tv/home ) will show every single FIBA AfroBasket 2021 game. Other broadcasters include StarTimes, beIN SPORTS, and Canal Plus. Most of the 16 countries at the tournament will also broadcast games of their national teams.
SOUTH SUDAN, KENYA, RWANDA AND UGANDA
This is the first time in the history of AfroBasket that four East African countries participate in the same edition of the African Championship.
Africa's newest country South Sudan, who became independent in 2011, is the only debutant at this year's FIBA Africa's premier basketball tournament. They qualified as runners-up of Group D of the Qualifiers with a 3-3 mark.
After a successful FIBA AfroCan 2019, where they finished second, Kenya qualified for the Final Round of the AfroBasket for the first time since 1993 when they hosted the tournament in Kigali, making Rwanda the first East African country to host the tournament in almost three decade.
Joining the East African contingent are Uganda, who returned to the tournament for the third straight time.
Australian-born Liz Mills is set to become the first female head coach in the history of FIBA AfroBasket. Mills has previously served as assistant coach to Zambia, she had a brief stint in Cameroon's coaching staff during the FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers 2019 before she was appointed head coach of Kenya in the Second Round of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers in February.
NBA INFLUENCE AT AFROBASKET 2021
A number of players competing at this year's AfroBasket have, had or will feature in the NBA.
Senegal's Gorgui Dieng, who last season played for the San Antonio Spurs, has recently signed for the Atlanta Hawks. The two-time AfroBasket participant Dieng is on his way to his eighth NBA season.
Free-agent Salah Mejri of Tunisia played in the NBA for four seasons, sporting the Dallas Mavericks jersey.
Ishmail Wainright, who played a major role for Uganda throughout the Qualifiers, has recently signed a two-year deal with the Toronto Raptors.
Cape Verde's Walter 'Edy' Tavares played for Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers, with passages to the NBA G-League. The seven-footer currently plays for Europe and Spain's powerhouse Real Madrid.
Cote d'Ivoire's Matthew Costello played for the Spurs on a way contract with the Austin Spurs.
COACHES WHO WON THE AFROBASKET
Only one of the 16 head coaches at AfroBasket 2021 has lifted the African Champion trophy.
Democrat Republic of Congo's play-caller Mathias Eckhoff was part of the technical bench of the AfroBasket 2015 champions Nigeria.
Mathias Eckhoff (on the right) is seen with former Nigeria head coach Will Voigt
The lis of assistant coaches in the Kigali showdown who have won the AfroBasket title includes Tunisia's Oualid Zrida and Rzig Amin (the latter won the trophy as a player in 2011), Angola's duo of Anibal Moreira and Miguel Lutonda (both won the title as players).
Let the Kigali 2021 battle begin.