Relive some historic performances from the 2019 African Qualifiers
ABIDJAN (Cote d'Ivoire) - With the new FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers system in its second edition, we look back at some of the most memorable collective and individual performances from the 2019 edition of the African Qualifiers.
From nail-biting wins, hard-fought triumphs to incredible comebacks, the qualification to the World Cup in China offered the best Africa could offer throughout the 15-month qualifying period.
It all started in Yaounde in November 2017.
Cameroon v Tunisia
Tunisia had just won their second AfroBasket two months earlier when they they took their chances to try and qualify for their second World Cup.
After easily beating Chad and Guinea, Tunisia had to be tested against host Cameroon.
Inspired by Omar Abada, who had a 5-for-5 shooting, including a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc, Tunisia seemed to be heading to another easy win. They led by 12 in the third until forward Willian Narace drilled a three-pointer that earned Cameroon a 57-56 lead with 7 minutes left.
Cameroon entered the last 15 seconds of the game up by one, but before it was too late, Abada's inbound found Mokhtar Ghayaza wide open in the paint for an easy lay-up that determined the final score 67-66.
Cote d'Ivoire v Senegal
The Cote d'Ivoire vs Senegal has become one of the must-watch match-ups in African basketball.
And when the two sided face off twice in the First Round of the African Qualifiers they were espectacular.
In Window 2 of the African Qualifiers, on February 24, 2018 in Maputo, Mozambique, Willy Kouassi ruled on both ends of the floor.
Kouassi was 5-for-6 including a three-pointer to finish with 12 points and 5 rebounds in just 22 minutes off the bench to spark his Cote d'Ivoire to a 67-60 victory over Senegal.
Four months later, in Dakar, Senegal added some firepower in Gorgui Dieng. Even the score was relatively similar, but this time, Dieng's Senegal prevailed 66-61.
Eventually, the two sides clinched two of the five tickets for African teams for the China 2019 showdown.
Carlos Morais for the win!!!
Speaking of rivalry, any Angola v Cameroon never disappoints.
Ever since they first met in the final of the 2007 AfroBasket, Angola has won all four games, but the second meeting between the two in the last African Qualifiers in the Angolan capital in November 2018 deservedly earned the epic accolade such was the intensity and uncertainty in the outcome.
The visitors led by ten at some point in the game, only trailed for 7 minutes, and silenced the Kilamba Arena for most of the regulation.
Until veterans Olimpio Cipriano and Carlos Morais executed a master-class play that stunned Cameroon.
Cipriano drove to basket, attracting some defenders around him just find Morais in the corner for a lethal three-pointer that technically decided the game with 27 seconds remaining.
Morais finished with a 6-for-13 shooting, including 4-for-8 from beyond the arc to lead all players in scoring with 22 points.
Cipriano only added 5 points off the bench, but one of his 2 assists proved to be a game-changer.