14 - 20
August 2023
15 Arnold Kome (CMR)
to read

OPQT's: Cameroon and Senegal to fight for supremacy and OQT prize

LAGOS (Nigeria) - The winner of the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Lagos will be decided on Sunday between Cameroon and Senegal who both successfully came out on top in Saturday's Semi-Finals. 

After eight games played over the course of the last five days in Nigeria's largest city, both nations remain unscathed in the build-up to their most important game of the year. 

Senegal outclass Guinea

Less than 24 hours after beating reigning African champions Tunisia, in what was the biggest upset in the tournament, Guinea looked nothing like the combative team they had previously appeared to be. They struggled to cope with Senegal's fast-paced game from the opening jump ball until the final buzzer. 

Guinea had a brief lead in the opening seconds of the game, but Senegal reminded everyone of their Olympic ambitions as they closed the game out with a comprehensive 100-60 win. 

Besides Guinea's apparent fatigue, Zeljko Zecevic's team paid the price for an unproductive bench which couldn't step up for their starters who combined for 43 points.

Guinea headed to the locker with a recoverable 45-32 deficit, but Senegal's strong third quarter saw the two teams separate for over third 30 points (74-45) and the game was gone. 

But the biggest difference between Guinea and Senegal was the latter's three-point efficiency.  With a 17-for-33 shooting from long range, Senegal set a tournament high of most three-point shots made in a single game.  

Brancou, the only player in double digits with 10 points at the end of the first half, led the way for Senegal with a game-high 20 points. He was followed by Jean Jacques Boissy who came off the bench to add 10 points and 8 assists. 

While Senegal remain undefeated in three games, Guinea return home with a 1-2 mark.

Cameroon makes it rain again to reach the Final

The Indomitable Lions became the first team to secure a place in Sunday's Final after an 87-70 win over Mali and stay perfect in the tournament (3-0).

Mali took an early and short-lived lead, but Cameroon responded with three straight straight triples for a 9-7 lead and they never trailed again. At that point it became clear that long-range shooting would play a huge in Cameroon's qualification for the Final.

Cameroon converted 15 three-pointers for the second time since beating Guinea 104-74 in the opener of their Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament to stay perfect ahead of the game that will determine their 2024 Olympic Games aspirations. 

The Cameroonians were so good from three-point range that they closed the opening quarter with a 27-17 lead, with 21 of those points coming from behind the arc. 

Cameroon's celebrations began when Fabien Ateba hit a three-pointer that gave the Lions a commanding 63-44 advantage with four minutes left in the third. At this point, playcaller Alfred Aboya rested his starting lineup until midway through to the fourth when Cameroon led 78-52. 

Fousseyni Drame led Mali with 16 points; Ibrahim Djambo, who scored Mali's first  five points, contributed 13 points, but they paid the price for struggling to guard Cameroon's long-range shooting and turn the ball over 25 times.

Mali closed their campaign with a 1-2 record.

Top Performers

It becomes impossible to talk about Cameroon basketball without a mention to Jeremiah Hill, Philippe Bayehe, Paul Eboua and Fabien Ateba as the quartet combined for 58 Cameroon points. 

For the third game in a row, Hill was a key factor for Cameroon after dishing out a game-best seven assists while making 5 of his 10 three-pointers to finish with a game-high of 21 points. 

Bayehe, meanwhile, shot from almost every corner of the floor to finish with 12 points, blocked two shots, and grabbed eight rebounds to send a message out about Cameroon's intentions in the tournament. 

Brancou Badio emerged once again as the heart-and-soul of Senegal as he paced his country with 20 points to record his highest efficiency in the tournament so far.

Photo of the day

 Cameroon are dancing their way to the OQT's right now - but what about Sunday's Last Dance? Will they be the ones celebrating?