Cameroon qualify for AfroBasket 2015
YAOUNDE (AfroBasket 2015) - Sama Taku bolstered his chances of making Cameroon's final roster for this summer's AfroBasket in Tunisia (19-30 August) by helping his country get past the Republic of Congo in the two-team FIBA Africa Zone 4 Group F qualifier played at Palace Multi-purpose Sports in Yaounde over the weekend.
The former University of the Pacific Tigers shooting guard came up big in his national team debut, sparking the "Indomitable Lions" with 10 points and eight assists in Friday's Game 1 81-69 victory. In Sunday's 80-68 defining victory, the 1.85m shooting guard led all scorers with 17 points as Cameroon secured their fifth consecutive AfroBasket appearance.
As a result of the two losses, Congo, the hosts of the 2015 All-African Games, will miss out on FIBA Africa's flagship competition after accomplishing 1-4 record two years ago in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.
Louis Tsoungui's team showed up with a team comprised mostly of locally based players eager to join the elite of African basketball in Tunisia.
Just like Taku did, Harding Nana, who last represented Cameroon at AfroBasket 2009, made significant impact with averages of 15.5 points in two games.
Taku is the kind of player that team captain Gaston Essengue describes as part of the new generation of Cameroon basketball.
We did not play with the main team, but we have to be able to keep trusting these young players. - Essengue
"I am not sure how many of them will make the final roster for the AfroBasket, but they continue to show how talented they are," Essengue said to FIBA.com
Essengue, who has played in every African Championship since Cameroon reached the Final of AfroBasket 2007, pointed to the example of Christian Bayang to signify just how essential local players are.
Bayang was a locally based player when he first represented the national team.
"Nowadays he is a professional and one of the best guards in Africa," said Essengue, who admitted it was a hard job to beat Congo in two games because they are a good team.
"We didn't play well, but the most important thing is the victory."
What's next for Cameroon? Essengue does not have to think long and hard to come up with a reply.
"Every time we go to the African Championship we go there to win. And this year we will play to qualify for the Olympic Games," he said.
"It's up to the coaching staff to prepare the team for the AfroBasket."
Essengue, who plays for Argentinian side Alianza Viedma Rio Negro, feels it is now time to pay back to his team.
"They made sacrifices to let me come to the national team. That was nice gesture from them. I just want to return to my club in Argentina and finish the season strongest possible way," he explained.
The 31-year-old averaged 9.5 points over the two games as Cameroon became the eighth national team to qualify for AfroBasket 2015, joining hosts Tunisia, reigning champions Angola, Egypt, Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire, Cape Verde and Morocco.