14 - 20
August 2023
23 Harouna Sissoko (MLI), 7 Ibrahim Djambo (MLI)
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OPQT's: Mali and Senegal into Semi-Finals; Olympic dreams of winless Nigeria are shattered

LAGOS (Nigeria) - Mali and Senegal are celebrating making the last four in Lagos, while Nigeria are no longer on the road to Paris 2024 after the D'Tigers exited the tournament winless.

Here's a wrap of what unfolded on the second day of the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Lagos.

Mali claim famous win against Nigeria to eliminate the hosts

Nigeria  led Mali by as many as nine points in the first half, but what happened in the third quarter was an immeasurable disaster for the hosts as their opponents prevailed 77-68.

Nigeria stepped on the floor knowing that only a win would be enough to advance, but Mali, who trailed 61-53 at the end of the third quarter, used a 16-0 run to stun the team that represented Africa at the last three editions of the Olympic Games.

In the meantime, Mali not only advanced to the Semi-Finals, but they also boosted their chances of making it to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year.

Uche Iroegbu led Nigeria 26 points while Daniel Utomi, the other Nigerian to score in double digits, finished with 16 points, but their effort wasn't enough to help Nigeria bounce back from a 93-87 loss to Senegal the night before.

Twins Fousseyni Drame and Hassan Drame led Mali with 14 points apiece and they will close their Group Phase campaign against Senegal, who also advanced to the last four off the back of Mali's victory. Nigeria's loss means Africa will have new a representative at the 2024 Paris Games.

Ateba propels Cameroon to a winning start

After an evenly-matched first half where both teams finished with almost identical numbers in assists, turnovers and fouls, the dependable Fabien Ateba set himself to help Cameroon open their campaign with a 104-74 success over Guinea.

By half-time, Ateba had already made 4 of his 6 three-point attempts to lead all players with 18 points as the Indomitable Lions headed to the locker room with a 45-40 lead.

Cameroon's five point advantage at the break would increase in the third quarter, especially with Guinea's inability to defend Jeremiah Hill and Paul Eboua's pick-and-rolls plays. And When Ateba hit two straight three-points and extended Cameroon's lead to 78-59 at the end of the third, it was game over for Guinea.

The fourth quarter saw both teams playing mostly with their second units. In the end, Cameroon couldn't have asked for a better start to the tournament before taking on African reigning champions Tunisia on Wednesday.

Top Performers

Ulrich Kamka Chomche has reminded everyone why he is one of Cameroon's top prospects. The 17-year-old came off the bench in the third quarter and made immediate impact on the defensive end. The 2.11m (6ft 11in) center may have contributed just two points, but his game-high four block shots speak volumes about his defensive ability. 

Jeremiah Hill was simply unstoppable. In addition to his 22 points, Hill ran Cameroon's offense in style as he created shooting opportunities for others, finishing with a tournament-high 11 assists. 

Alpha Diallo was a one-man show for Guinea and he made the most of 35 minutes on the floor. Diallo was one rebound and an assist shy of the tournament's first triple-double. He finished with 10-for-15 shooting to go with a team-high 25 points while adding 9 rebounds and 9 assists.

Nigeria may have crashed out of the tournament, but Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu left his mark as he established tournament record form most blocks in a single. In addition to his two points the seven-footer contributed 4 blocks.

Uche Iroegbu buried 6 of his 11 three-point attempts to finish with a game-high of 26 points although his effort proved to be fruitless for Nigeria.

Photo of the day

Chimezie Metu looking up at the scoreboard in a state of almost disbelief. Now the reality of the  failure by Nigeria on home soil will be sinking in as they reflect on a second and fatal loss in just over 24 hours.

Highlight of the day

None better than Cameroon point guard Jeremiah Hill to reflect on how the indomitable Lions came up with the largest winning margin (104-74) in the tournament so far. Hill made sure highlight their team effort while noting how Fabien Ateba changed the game for Cameroon.