Cape Verde punch ticket for AfroBasket 2015
PRAIA (AfroBasket 2015) - Cape Verde guard Brian Rudolph had a good AfroBasket debut a couple of years ago, sparking the islanders with team-high averages of 11.4 points and 5 assists.
Now, he seems eager to do it again.
Rudolph, along with Mario Correia and Kevin Coronel, were key factors as Cape Verde registered a decisive 70-42 Game 2 victory over Guinea on Friday to qualify for AfroBasket 2015, a tournament that will be played from 19 to 30 August in Tunisia.
Guinea swingman Bachir Bella Diallo scored in double figures but it wasn't enough to qualify his country to their first AfroBasket since 1985.
Former Cape Verde international Rodrigo Mascarenhas, now serving as caretaker head coach of the islanders, never doubted his team's capability of overcoming Guinea.
Only three foreign-based players featured for Cape Verde, and Mascarenhas says his team did well, but it will be up to the new coach to select whoever he wants for the AfroBasket.
"We did a great job. When you use players such as Marito (Mario Correia), Brian (Rudolph) and Kevin Coronel we are a decent and tough team to beat," he told FIBA.com.
"Guinea had three or four good players with French basketball experience, but we were never going to lose the qualifier."
Sandir Palavra, one of Cape Verde's locally-based players, finished with a game-high 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He had 16 points in Thursday's Game 1.
Despite the loss, Guinea's coach Ousmane Camara remained upbeat: "We are building a new team with many young players. We are optimistic about the future our basketball."
Guinea lost Game 1, 71-60, but almost silenced a sold-out Vava Duarte Gym in Cape Verde's capital city of Praia.
The two-game FIBA Africa Zone 2 Group C qualifier confirmed Cape Verde's fourth appearance in the last five editions of the AfroBasket.
Gambia, the other participant team, withdrew.
With the two-game series win, Cape Verde not only qualified for FIBA Africa's flagship event, but also secured a place at this year's edition of the All-African Games in the Republic of Congo.
"A good preparation could help Cape Verde finish on the podium again after a third-place at AfroBasket 2007," said Mascarenhas who is not expecting to lead the team at AfroBasket 2015.