22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
22 Walter Tavares (CPV)
Game Report
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Tears of joy as Cape Verde qualify for World Cup


LUANDA (Angola) - The Blue Sharks of Cape Verde showed some bite in qualifying for this year's FIBA Basketball World Cup, and, in the process, made history for their country after an emphatic victory over Cote d'Ivoire on Sunday evening in Luanda, Angola.

The islanders, who shook off a disappointing loss to hosts Angola the previous evening, romped home to a 79-64 win in a FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers at the Pavilhao Multiusos do Kilamba.

Ivan Almeida played a superb game and led the Blue Sharks with 20 points and was supported by Betinho Gomes (15) and Walter Tavares (13).

In a game that they needed to win the islanders got off to a slow start and saw themselves 10 points down (24-14).

Cote d'Ivoire players played with a sense of urgency, and it could be that they are also auditioning for a spot in the team ahead of the World Cup.

Young point guard Sire Dieng, who opened the scoring with a three-pointer, led the Elephants with eight-points.

With six minutes gone in the second quarter, Cape Verde closed in on the Ivorians, employed a second unit that struggled with their opponents defence.

Cape Verde went on a 22-5 run which was started by threes from Anderson Correia and Betinho Gomes.

Buckets continued to rain at the Ivorian end of the court, but Cape Verde's run was halted with a solitary free-throw by Ivorian point guard Solo Diabate close to the end of the quarter.

In the second half Cape Verde continued their dominance of the game and were well deserving of their 15 point victory.

TURNING POINT: In the second quarter Cape Verde played like a team knowing that a ticket to the World Cup was on the line and defended with great diligence and overwhelmed the Ivorians with their physicality. The Islanders profited from the turn overs they forced and were able to score 16 points at the end of the second half.

GAME HERO: It would be easy to pick the whole Cape Verde team for showing heart after the disappointing loss to Angola and them (Cape Verde) being able to dig themselves out of hole after slow start against Cote d'Ivoire.

But the heroic performance of Ivan Almeida has to be commended. Almeida, who was 6/11 in field-goals made, had three assists and three steals in lending a hand to his country's cause. Almeida finished with a game-high 20 points while adding 5 rebounds.

STATS DON'T LIE: Cape Verde's 22-point scoring run in the first half turned things around for the islanders. Taking the lead in the second quarter they never looked back. They scored 29 points from turnovers and had 15 second chance points in the game.

BOTTOM LINE: The Blue Sharks stepped up in a must win game. They want to win and got the desired result. Every player from the starting five to the bench stepped up and made history for the island nation.

THEY SAID: "I am feeling great. I do not know what to say, I feel emotional right now. This has been a dream of mine to achieve this with my country. We needed to win today. Yes, we lost yesterday, we had another opportunity today and we got the job done." -  Cape Verde center Walter Tavares.

"It's amazing we just made history. We fought so hard to be here. After the loss yesterday we never lost belief and today we just made history. We started slow but we knew what we needed to do. Again we want to make history and be a sign of inspiration for future generations of Cape Verdeans." - Cape Verde forward Betinho Gomes.