22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
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African basketball's royalty set to return in July


ABIDJAN (Cote d'Ivoire) - In what is expected to be a decisive phase in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers, most of the 16 teams are welcoming the return of some of their brightest talents.

After sitting out the first 24 games of the African Qualifiers, 15 players, who have left their mark in Africa's major tournaments before, are boosting their teams in the race for the five tickets available for the continent for the multi-country 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. 

The upcoming Window 3 of the African Qualifiers is scheduled for Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire), Alexandria (Egypt) and Kigali (Rwanda) from July 1-3.

In no particular order, here are the players selected to give their contribution in the race for next year's showdown in Indonesia, Japan and Philippines. 

Arthur Kaluma

(6-foot-7 forward/01 March 2002/Creighton University USA) - The youngster last featured for his country at 2021 AfroBasket. In March, the 21-year-old powered his Creighton University to the Second Round of the NCAA tournament before coming up short to eventual national champions Kansas University. Due to his impressive contribution for Uganda, Kaluma's return represents a major boost for the Silverbacks who currently register a 1-2 mark in Group B. In his last appearance for Uganda (2021 AfroBasket), Kaluma averaged a team-high of 13.2 points per game. 

Nuni Omot

(6-foot-9 forward/03 October 1994/Leones de Ponce PUERTO RICO) - After inspiring South Sudan in the Second Round of the 2021 AfroBasket Qualifiers in February 2021 with his team-highs 15 points per game and an 11 efficiency rate, Omot sat out the Final Round of the African Championship. A versatile forward with a lethal shooting, Omot rejoins South Sudan at the right time.

Oumar Ballo

(6-foot-10 center/13 July 2002/ Arizona Wildcats USA) - Ballo's name will forever be associated with Mali's stunning 2019 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup campaign, where he powered his country to a historic second place finish, a feat no other African has ever achieved. Considered a fit for Mali men's team, this could be his debut with the team.A left-handed center who usually gives his all on both ends of the floor, Ballo adds even more energy to this highly-motivated Mali team. 

Christian Eyenga

(6-foot-8 forward/22 June 1989/Fuenlabrada SPAIN) - In his last appearance for the DR Congo during the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers in June 2018 in Cairo, Eyenga produced an impressive display while helping his country to wins over Egypt and Angola. The former NBA player averaged 14.7 points and 7 rebounds in three games. His storied career at the highest level is everything DR Congo need in their attempt to advance to the Second Round.

Johndre Jefferson

(6-foot-10 Power Forward/ 30 November 1988/Nacional URUGUAY) - If shortlisted to fill in the naturalised spot, Jefferson will rejoin the former African champions for the first time since 2021 AfroBasket Qualifiers when he contributed vital 6.2 rebounds per game.

Cedric Mansare

(6-foot-6 Guard/ 18 October 1985/DAX Gamarde Basket FRANCE) - Mansare has become synonym with scoring for Guinea in recent times. With Mansare - who last featured for Guinea at 2021 AfroBasket, a competition he averaged a team-high of 14 points and contributed 3.2 assists per game - and Shannon Evans on the same lineup, Guinea have sufficient weapons to challenge any team in Group C, including hosts Cote d'Ivoire

Matt Costello

 (6-foot-10 Center/5 August 1993/ Saski Baskonia SPAIN) - Cote d'Ivoire were on the rise when they brought in Costello. And what a debut he's had with the Elephants at 2021 AfroBasket!! The former NBA player not only led Cote d'Ivoire with his 16.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, but he was also instrumental in helping Cote d'Ivoire reach the Championship Game, where they came up short to Tunisia. This is set to be his first major appearance for Cote d'Ivoire in front of their home fans.

Salah Mejri

 (7-foot-1 Center/ 15 June 1986/ Al Jahra Club KUWAIT) - In his last appearance with the Tunisian jersey on, Mejri powered his country to their third AfroBasket in September 2021. The former Dallas Mavericks player averaged 15.8 points per game as Tunisia beat Cote d'Ivoire in the Final. In July, he returns to Kigali for his first appearance since their latest AfroBasket coronation.

Michael Roll

(6-foot-5 Guard /12 Apr 1987/Karsiyaka TURKEY) - A terrific shooter who can shoot from everywhere, when Roll last played for Tunisia at 2021 AfroBasket he contributed valuable 15.8 points and 6 assists per game to win his first African title with Tunisia. He's a massive addition for the reigning African champions in the race for the 2023 World Cup.

Gorgui Dieng

(6-foot-11 Center/18 January 1990/Atlanta Hawks USA) - The most emblematic Senegalese player in recent years is set to feature for his country for the first time since September 2021 when he helped Senegal to a Third-Place at AfroBasket. With Dieng on the rotation, Senegal gain aggressiveness on both ends of the floor  

Tylor Ongwae

(6-foot-7 Guard/15 July 1991/Bakken Bears DENMARK) - Unquestionably Kenya's most important player in recent times, Ongwae returns to Team Morans in their last-gasp to correct the wrongs from the first round. When Ongwae last played for Kenya at AfroBasket last September he did a bit of everything averaging team-highs of 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and efficiency of 12.5 

Assem Marei

(6-foot-9 Power Forward/16-June-1992/LG Sakers SOUTH KOREA) - It's been almost three years since Marei last featured for his country during Window 4 of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers. The arrival of the man who played a major role in Egypt's qualification for the 2014 World Cup improves their aggressiveness in the painted area.

Walter Tavares

(7-foot-3 Center /22 March 1992/Real Madrid SPAIN) - After an impressive display at AfroBasket last September where he inspired the Islanders to the Semi-Finals, Tavares is set to return to return in July. Recently named ACB Finals MVP, Tavares can add size, aggressiveness on both ends of the floor, something Cape Verde lacked in the first three games of Group B.

Evariste Shonganya

(6-foot-7 Forward/06 April 1991/Etoile de Charleville-Mezières FRANCE) - Shonganya returns to the Leopards for the first time after helping his country to the 2019 FIBA AfroCan Crown. A solid power forward who can play at center, Shonganya can contribute his energy and rebounding ability.  

Ishmail Wainright

(6-foot-5 forward/12 Sep 1994/Phoenix Suns USA) - Ever since Ishmail Wainright debuted for Uganda during the 2021 AfroBasket Qualifiers in November 2020, he became a vital piece for George Galanopoulos's team. Wainright was Uganda's most efficient player (18.8) at 2021 AfroBasket, which marked his appearance for Uganda. Offensively and defensively gifted, Wainright is filling in the naturalised spot that was handed to Brandon Davies in November's Window 1 of the African Qualifiers.