07 March, 2017
27 August
Celebration (Senegal)
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FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017 Power Rankings: Week 1

ABIDJAN (FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017) - Every week leading up to FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017 tipping off on August 18-27 our editors will be ranking the 12 national teams bound for Bamako, Mali, based on their respective rosters and preparations for the Championship. 






Finishing in Third-Place as hosts of FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2011 wasn't the result Mali looked for. Surely they have learned a lesson, and they can't take opponents lightly anymore. As they attempt to win the African Championship for the first time since 2007, Mali head coach Sylvian Lautie is currently holding a training camp with the most talented players Mali has to offer. Lautie has blended home-based talents with those playing professionally in top European Leagues. 


After an intense season with the Turkish side Galatasaray, Astou Traore - the team leading scorer at Rio Olympics - has finally joined the team in Paris, where Senegal are currently holding a training camp. Head coach Moustapha Gaye has kept the core of the team that stormed into Yaounde, Cameroon, to win their 12th continental title.

  Although Angola won't count with three key players - Nacissela Mauricio, Nadir Manuel and Catarina Camufal - who played a major role in their first-ever African title accomplished in Mali four years ago, Italee Lucas - the current most talented point guard in Africa - could become the difference-maker.  

  It's not accidental that the DR Congo emerge this week in top 4. With Pauline Akonga and Mireille Buganza - two players who made tremendous noise at the 2016 edition of the FIBA Africa Champions Cup for Women - confirming their availability, the Congolese seem to be prepared to their glory days.

  Mozambique ace Leia Dongue has won the FIBA ACCW with Angolan side Primeiro D'Agosto two years ago, but the FIBA Women's AfroBasket is still missing in her trophy cabinet. Having missed the 2015 edition of the African Championship, Dongue made her return during the qualifiers three months ago. She will be joined by a number of young talents led by Aquila Mucubaquire who has been named MVP of the 2017 Mozambique National Championship. 


Until the Nigerian Basketball Federation announces the coaching staff, players and training camp plans, very little will be known about one of the most talented teams in Africa women's basketball.


Both Menatalla Awad and Soraia Degahdy have recently expressed willingness of making history next month in Mali. Although Egypt tend to play with a small lineup, they aren't short of tenacity and talent. 


If Cameroon show up in Bamako with the core of the team that lost all their two games at 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Tournament, they might struggle to repeat their eye-catching performances from FIBA Women AfroBasket 2015. 


If Nadia Niang - a prolific scorer - returns for Guinea in Bamako, they will be ensured a leader on and off the court. Guinea just need a productive bench.


As we write this article, half of Tunisia team (players under the age of 25) are currently competing at the 2017 Francophone Games in Abidjan. In fairness, the results haven't been the most impressive so far, but Salma Mnasria and Houda Hamrouni could give Tunisia the most needed spark by the time they resume their FIBA Women's AfroBasket training camp next week. 


What makes this Cote d'Ivoire team intriguing is the fact that head coach Simon Guillou might not count with the services of Kani Kouyate, who led the Ivoirians in scoring in Mozambique two years ago, but he has called up a number of new faces including eight players born in or after 1997.


The Central Africans beat the DR Congo in Game 2 of FIBA Africa Zone 4 qualifiers, but the win wasn't good enough to secure direct qualification. And as a result, FIBA Africa awarded CAF a wild card.  They will make their continental appearance for the first time in more than four decades.

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author.