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ANG - A test in Rio ahead of the World Cup
LUANDA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - With Felizardo Ambrosio officially ruled out of the 2014 FIBA World Cup through injury, the chances of Yanick Moreira making his debut for Angola's senior team have clearly increased.
But first the 2.11m center at Southern Methodist University (SMU) - who has previously been named to his country's preliminary squad only to then pull out for academic and administrative reasons - has a few challenges to face.
Moreira, the only foreign-based Angolan player, will have to play better than fellow big man Valdelicio Joaquim, who had a tremendous season with Petro de Luanda before signing for Recreativo do Libolo last month.
If both South American national teams feature their key players at the event, Angola head coach Paulo Macedo expects Moreira to make the most of facing Brazil's Nene Hilario, Tiago Splitter and Argentina's Luis Scola and Walter Herrmann.
"I look forward to seeing how Yanick adapts to the team and how he performs against top players," Macedo told FIBA.com. "But he is not the only one that I want to see in action. Depending on how my players perform in Rio, it will help me make my mind for the twelve players I'll select for the World Cup."
Macedo's preliminary squad includes most of the 12 players who helped Angola win its 11th continental trophy at AfroBasket 2013, with the exception of Ambrosio and Carlos Almeida who retired.
Nevertheless, Macedo insists that newcomers Moreira, Edmir Lucas, Edson Ndoniema, Mutu Fonseca and Islando Manuel are poised to battle for a place in the team that will open their 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Gran Canaria's Group D against Mexico, Korea, Lithuania, Australia and Slovenia.
"As we talk today (22 July) the team is not yet playing at the level we expect.
"We have a lot of room to improve, but by the time we return from Rio we hope to have made significant progress.
"I know those players can make an impact," said Macedo.
With a busy agenda ahead of Spain 2014, the Angolan B team will show up at the Stankovic Continental Cup under coach Emanuel Trovoada who named the following players: Joaquim Gomes, Braulio Morais, Antonio Monteiro, Johne Pedro, Pedro Bastos, Miguel Kiala, Leonel Paulo, Hermenegildo Mbunga, Adilson Ramos, André Miguel, António Deogracio and Leandro Conceicao.
In the meantime, the Angolan Basketball Federation announced on Tuesday that it will host an international tournament in the capital city of Luanda (24-26 July) along with the national team of Cameroon, Louisiana Tech University and an opponent yet to be defined.
Macedo says it would be great if other national teams qualified for the World Cup could take part in the tournament too.
"We would love them to come to Angola, but we understand they have other plans," he said.