10 standout performers from the last window of AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers
ABIDJAN (Cote d'Ivoire) - As we look back at the Second Round of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers played across two African cities Yaounde and Monastir, from February 17-21, we picked 10 standout performers.
We based our choices not only on statistics, but more importantly, on the way that these ten players improved their teams's chances in the race to the FIBA AfroBasket 2021, which will take place from August 24 to September 5 in Kigali, Rwanda.
Tylor Ongwae (Kenya)
Birth date: July 15, 1991
Height: 200 cm (6ft 7in)
Club: Bakken Bears (BasketLiagen, Denmark)
It's become impossible to disconnect Kenya's return to the AfroBasket after 28 years to Ongwae.
Obviously, the numbers don't always reflect the whole picture, but in this case, there is no other way around it, Ongwae's impact was huge for the Morans.
And, as if leading his team with team-highs 14.8 points and 4.2 assists wasn't good enough, Ongwane, who also finished as the team's second leading-rebounder with 7.2 boards in five games, was determinant in Kenya's most important win as a his buzzer-beater mid-range jumper stunned Angola 74-73 to ensure Kenya a place at AfroBasket 2021.
A real inspiring figure for Kenya, Ongwae has legitimately entered this 10 standout performers list.
Carlos Morais (Angola)
Birth date: October 16, 1985
Height: 193 cm (6ft 3in)
Club: Petro de Luanda (Angolan Basketball League)
Morais was there when Angola needed him most, and he delivered some critical shots in the Yaounde showpiece.
And although the former African champions returned home with an overall 4-2 mark, Morais, who played in 5 of 6 Angola Qualifiers games, fulfilled his leadership role by transmitting his younger teammates the skillset they needed in critical times of their three games in the Cameroonian capital.
Morais made his 6 of 9 three-pointer attempts look easy as Angola trounced Mozambique 91-68 in a win that was enough to ensure Angola a place at this year's AfroBasket.
Allan Dokossi (Central African Republic)
Birth date: December 14, 1999
Height: 203 cm (6ft 8in)
Club: FOS-SUR-MER (France PRO B)
When one looks at how the Central African Republic team is loaded with experienced and talented players, and yet, 21-year-old Dokossi steps ups just like one of his peers, then it's time to stop and reflect how bright his basketball future could be.
After giving reigning African champions Tunisia some hard time in their Group A First Round last November, where he recorded a double-double, Dokossi came up with yet some flashy and dominant plays in the Second Round in February.
Dokossi registered his second double-double display finishing with 23 points and picking 10 rebounds in a 79-72 triumph over Madagascar.
Deon Thompson (Cote d'Ivoire)
Birth date: September 16, 1988
Height: 204 cm (6ft 8in)
Club: Unicaja Baloncesto (Liga Endesa, Spain)
An all-around player, Thompson emerged as one of the most solid Cote d'Ivoire players throughout the entire Qualifiers process.
Highly efficient at both ends of the floor, Thompson has been vital for the 'Elephants' of Cote d'Ivoire in recent years, and when they faced their toughest test in the Second Round, he responded with an eye-catching performance of 11 points and six rebounds as the Ivoirians denied hosts Cameroon for the second time in the Qualifiers.
Jordan Sakho (DR Congo)
Birth date: April 4, 1997
Height: 207 cm (6ft 9in)
Club: Hereda San Pablo Burgos (Liga Endesa, Spain)
The Congolese are returning to the FIBA AfroBasket for the second time in a row, and Sakho who was fundamental for his country's FIBA AfroCan 2019 title is set to make his debut in Africa's premier basketball tournament thanks to his displays throughout the Qualifiers.
They say big players tend to step up in big moments, and Sakho did just that helping DR Congo finish second in Group A with a 3-3.
Sakho protected the paint like no other, contributing the second highest rebounding average with 9.5 boards in six games.
Haytham Khalifa (Egypt)
Birth date: November 17, 1987
Height: 207 cm (6ft 9in)
Club: El Ettehad (Egypt Super League)
Khalifa was left out of the Egyptian roster last November after suffering a last-minute injury, however, upon his return in February, he did what real leaders are supposed to do.
He was so consistent that in two Group E games, he came up with an average of 13 points - Egypt's second highest - and 3.5 assists per game.
Imagine a big man with an easy shot release. That's what Khalifa was and is able of doing. In Two games, he made 6 of his 14 three-point attempts as Egypt wrapped up their Qualifiers campaign undefeated in five games.
Sadio Doucoure (Mali)
Birth date: July 27, 1992
Height: 195 cm (6ft 5in)
Club: Antibes (France PRO B)
Doucoure has only featured at two of Mali's six games in the Qualifiers, but when he was on the floor he made his name heard loudly.
He not only paced Mali with a team-high 12.5 points per game, but the 28-year-old added a joint-team-best 3.5 assists per game, before contributing a six boards per game.
At the end of the Qualifiers, Doucoure's displays left a clear message of his intentions of becoming one of the leaders on this Mali team.
Ike Iroegbu (Nigeria)
Birth date: May 14, 1995
Height: 188 cm (6ft 2in)
Club: Rast Vechta (Basketball Bundesliga, Germany)
The numbers speak for themselves. The Nigeria point guard was undisputedly the D'Tigers best asset in the Qualifiers process, averaging team-highs 13.2 points, and 5 assists per game.
Iroegbu, who suited up on a Nigerian uniform for the first time alongside his younger brother Uche, made a case for his prospects of making Nigeria's roster for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Nuni Omot (South Sudan)
Birth date: October 3, 1994
Height: 206 cm (6ft 9in)
Club: Trefl Sopot (Polish Basketball League)
The South Sudanese are blessed for having an endless list of talented players across the globe, and Omot was one good example of it.
Making his Qualifiers debut on February 17 against Nigeria, Omot did a bit of everything for his team. Not only he finished with a game-high 27 points in a 75-70 defeat that could have gone either way, but he was simply unstoppable.
And his 8 of 10 two-point shots success translated how dominant he was against Africa's No.1 team.
Makrem Ben Romdhane (Tunisia)
Birth date: March 27, 1989
Height: 204 cm (6ft 8in)
Club: Union Sportive Monastir
Efficiency and reliability, these are the attributes that better translate Ben Romdhane's performances in the last window of the AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers.
When Tunisia needed him most, he delivered, perhaps, his best performance in the Qualifiers in a 63-58 victory over the Central African Republic.
In that game, where the Central Africans led by as many as 10 points at some points, the 31-year-old power forward contributed fundamental 14 points and a joint-tournament-high 16 rebound as Tunisia wrapped their Group A campaign undefeated in six games.