New beginning for Cote d'Ivoire
COTONOU (AfroBasket 2015) - Cote d'Ivoire became the fifth national team to secure qualification for this summer's AfroBasket in Tunisia (19-30 August) after beating Benin in one of FIBA Africa Zone 3 two-game qualifier at Hall des Arts et Sports in Cotonou Cotonou over the weekend.
With a team of mostly local based players, the "Elephants" edged out the hosts 69-57 in the first game on Saturday.
On Sunday, coach Olivier Tea's team inflicted the final blow with a decisive 62-49 victory.
Cote d'Ivoire join hosts Tunisia, African reigning champions Angola, Egypt and Uganda in FIBA Africa's flagship event.
Benin did the best they could to try and reach their first AfroBasket in four decades, but were unable to match the Ivoirians, who will feature in AfroBasket competition for the 20th consecutive time.
Cote d'Ivoire guard Stephane Konate played a crucial role in Saturday's victory. However, following that game, he was informed of his father's death and returned to Abidjan to be with his family.
After finishing a disappointing fourth at AfroBasket 2013 held in their biggest city of Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire aim to bounce back and move on.
The country last won an AfroBasket three decades ago, but Cote d'Ivoire national basketball federation chairman Toure Boubakari told FIBA.com that it is time for a new beginning.
We are pleased with the qualification for AfroBasket, and I am already working in the future of this team. It is a new beginning now. - Boubakari
"I want to make sure that some of our talented players based overseas come and join us because AfroBasket is a tough competition," he said.
"If those players come, I am sure we can accomplish our goal, which is the podium at AfroBasket.
"As we speak I am still in Cotonou, and it is too early to say what changes need to be made.
"Coach Tea is our coach now. As everyone knows we need experienced players and coaches to compete at high level. I can't say for sure if we'll make changes at the coaching position. We might do.
"Benin is a good team. They need to step up their competitiveness level in order to play at AfroBasket level."