Fascinating matchups headline Quarter-Finals of Women's AfroBasket 2021
YAOUNDE (Cameroon) - Egypt, Cote d'Ivoire, Mozambique and Angola wormed their way from qualification round to the to set up enthralling fixtures in the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2021.
With the 12 initial teams now trimmed to eight, four tantalising games await basketball diehards as the quest for the final 4 heightens.
CAMEROON vs EGYPT
Cameroon will be clashing with Egypt for the second time within a month after a the "Lionesses" overpowered the North Africans 74-67 during warm up fixture prior to the AfroBasket's tip-off.
Two years ago, Egypt dashed Cameroon's Quarter-Finals ambitions to the winds following a mind boggling 68-63 victory.
Only one player Alexandra Green, who played in the continental tournament two years ago, was retained for this edition of the tournament, a pointer that the squad has been revamped with ambitions even loftier.
Cameroon's main asset will be forward Marina Ewodo who averages a team best 13.5 points and four rebounds.
Point guard Alexandra Green has been orchestrating the side's offense with 7.5 assists a game and an efficiency of 13.
But 1m85 (6ft1in) Ewodo believes the hosts key to a victory will be "team dynamics and mentality" adding that it will be a tale of who wants it more.
Reminiscing the conclusion of the Cameroon vs Egypt clash two years ago, mental strength will be a deciding factor.
Soraya Degheidy, whose 23 points guaranteed Egypt a spot in the Quarter-Finals two years ago, is still in the side and she's still in incredible fettle.
The 26-year-old guard has become more efficient, churning 13.7 points, four rebounds and aiding her mates score with four assists.
The host will be keen on returning to the semis for the first time since 2015 but Egypt undoubtedly wouldn't entertaining that idea.
NIGERIA vs COTE D'IVOIRE
The last time Nigeria lost a game at the AfroBasket was on October 2, 2015 to Cameroon in the semis of the tournament in Yaounde.
Since then, Nigeria have gone on to reign supreme, picking two back to back continental crowns in 2017 and 2019.
Their drive for a third consecutive title is incarnated by Ezinne Kalu.
Put a ball on the hands of the 2019 MVP and the rest is magic.
Her pace, aggressiveness and comprehension of the game is unrivalled as she contributes a team best 14.5 points and 4 assists.
Cote d'Ivoire will be playing at their seventh consecutive quarterfinal in the AfroBasket with the ultimate goal being that of appearing in the semis for the first time since 2009.
A key cog in this ambition is Laetitia Sahie.
Talk of instant impact and the 21-year old small forward comes to mind. She's two rebounds shy of averaging double doubles with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Little wonder then that her teammate Djefarima Diawara describes her as the "player with the most desire".
Nigeria will head into this one and favorites but the Ivorians fancy upsets and "D'Tigress" will have to play their A game.
SENEGAL vs MOZAMBIQUE
There's no love lost between these two sides after Senegal knocked out Mozambique in the semis of the Women's AfroBasket 2019 and this one wouldn't be short of fireworks.
Reigniting this feud will be Yacine Diop's role.
She stands out on the court not just for her colorful hair or long legs but her ability to be a threat on both ends.
For two consecutive games, she averaged 19 points, ranking as the second best scorer in the tournament and her impact in the paint is significant.
The Charnay forward is shooting 68.2% in the paint and is one of the reasons why Senegal is unbeaten.
Around her is a strong cast with veteran forward Oumoul Sarr hitting an efficiency of 17 while Lena Niang is providing 16.5 points a game for the 11-time champions.
Mozambique had a less glamorous run to the quarterfinals, finishing third in Group B.
Questions have been surfacing whether the side can be a force to reckon with in the absence of star player Leia Dongue.
Ingvild Mucauro has taken up the mantle of leadership in fine style.
If against Nigeria the 29-year old erred with 6 points, against Angola she dropped 16 points before obliterating Kenya in Round 16 with 21 points.
A similar performance in the quarterfinals and Senegal could end up in a topsy-turvy situation.
MALI vs ANGOLA
Mali wouldn't flinch before any opposition.
They hammered Tunisia 101-39 then discarded Cote d'Ivoire 76-63 to top Group D.
The 2007 champions are very much accustomed to this stage of the tournament and will turn to their magical trio of Djeneba Ndiaye (20.5 points), Mariama Coulibaly (13 points) and Sika Kone (12 points).
Djeneba Ndiaye is shooting 30.4% beyond the arc and has converted 6 of her 10 attempts on the charity line.
Mariama Coulibaly is set to play a major role defensively capturing rebounds having averaged 6 in two games.
Angola had to tackle a third quarter come back from Cape Verde to book their spot for the quarterfinals.
The 2011 and 2013 champions in the last two editions have been halted in the quarterfinals but there's a believe that Italee Lucas and mates can slide through to the semis.
The best shooting guard at the 2017 AfroBasket has lived up to expectations posting 16 points and 2.7 rebounds to keep Angola in the competition.
23-year old Avelina Peso will be an influential player for Angola.
Apart from chipping in 10.3 points, fibe rebounds and an efficiency of 10.7, she's bringing great energy to the court with her aggresive defending.
If these two players are in top shape, then Mali will be in for a rough time.