Qualified Team Focus - Cape Verde: Veteran Blue Sharks hungry to challenge in World Cup bow
MIES (Switzerland) - The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Draw, presented by Wanda, will be held in Manila, Philippines, on April 29. It is now time to meet the 32 teams that try to become World Champions in a few months.
Here is the number 64 team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, World Cup debutants Cape Verde.
Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an
How did they qualify
Cape Verde will be historic debutants at the World Cup this summer as the Africans became the smallest nation by population to reach the global showcase. Their qualification came in the final game of the African Qualifiers, which followed Cape Verde reaching the Semi-Finals of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021. They ended up taking fourth place in their first continental top-four showing since 2007. Now the Blue Sharks will be out to show they belong in the World Cup.
Cape Verde's African Qualifiers tipped off in November 2021 in Angola with Group A action. Emanuel Trovoada's team started with a 79-71 victory over Nigeria, a thriller with 17 lead changes and Anderson Correia hitting for 15 points. Cape Verde dropped the second game against Uganda 77-74 despite all five starters scoring in double figures. Cape Verde's third game against Mali was annulled.
The Blue Sharks returned to action in July 2022 with the games played in Rwanda. In the opener, Cape Verde lost a 15-point lead but still beat Nigeria a second time 79-70 with Walter Tavares collecting 15 points and 13 rebounds and Ivan Almeida tallying 14 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists.
Walter Tavares starred again in the team's 87-78 win over Uganda with 21 points and 6 rebounds while Williams Tavares netted 22 points. That sent Cape Verde to the Second Round as their second game with Mali was annulled as well.
Cape Verde travelled to Cote d'Ivoire for the August 2022 window and opened Group E play with a 65-48 win over Guinea. Walter Tavares had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Joel Almeida scored 14 points in the win. That would prove the only victory for the Blue Sharks in that window though.
They lost 65-58 to Angola and were knocked off 77-69 by Cote d'Ivoire despite Walter Tavares grabbing 23 points and 14 rebounds and Fidel Mendonca contributing 19 points.
Cape Verde did not have the services of star big man Walter Tavares for the first game of the February 2023 window in Angola. Trovoada's men managed to pulled out the victory though, beating Guinea 78-70 as 38-year-old long time former Portuguese international Betinho Gomes debuted for the Blue Sharks and scored 19 points with 9 rebounds to help Williams Tavares' 20 points.
Walter Tavares landed in the Angolan capital Luanda just hours before Cape Verde's game with Angola. The team ended up losing 80-67 despite Ivan Almeida and Gomes both scoring 14 points and Walter Tavares picking up 11 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocks.
That left it all down to the game against Cote d'Ivoire. Cape Verde rallied from 13 points down with a 28-6 second quarter and claimed a 79-64 victory to lock up their spot on the global stage. Ivan Almeida scored 20 points, Gomes had 15 and Walter Tavares chipped in 13 points in the history triumph.
Best result at the World Cup
Cape Verde not only made history by making their first World Cup but they are the smallest nation by population to ever reach the global spectacle with 571,966 people. The previous record was Montenegro at China 2019 with a population just over 620,000 at the time.
Last World Cup appearances
Cape Verde were playing in their first World Cup Qualifiers as the China 2019 qualification campaign included only the 16 teams from FIBA AfroBasket 2017, where the archipelago nation did not participate. They finished fourth of four teams in Zone 2 of the AfroBasket 2017 qualifiers with a 2-4 record behind Senegal, Mali and Guinea.
The closest Cape Verde were previously to reaching the World Cup was in 2013 when they finished sixth at FIBA AfroBasket 2013, from which the top three qualified for Spain 2014.
Players to watch
Cape Verde will feature one of the best big men in the World Cup in star Walter Tavares, who changes the game at both ends of the floor. But Coach Trovoada has more than just the Spain-based center.
Walter Tavares stood strong for Cape Verde
Cape Verde may be the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup, but the team might be one of the oldest this summer. Joel Almeida is 37 years old while Ivan Almeida, who also played all 10 of Cape Verde's qualifying games, will be 34 - both still very productive. Even Walter Tavares is 31 already.
The country's bigget future hope is Williams Tavares, the 27-year-old who plays in Bulgaria.
Qualified Team Focus series
Please check the teams we have already broken down. In the past weeks, before the last qualifications that happened in February 2023, we have ordered them by their position in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike:
Spain, Australia, France, Slovenia, Lithuania, Greece, Italy, Germany, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, USA, Serbia, Brazil, Venezuela, Montenegro, Puerto Rico, Iran, Dominican Republic, China, Latvia, Mexico, Georgia, Jordan, Japan, Philippines, Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Lebanon, Egypt. and South Sudan.