Julio Chitunda's African Message

What three wins mean for Angola, Egypt and Senegal

SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - If Angola, Egypt and Senegal win three games or more at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, which starts this week in Spain, it would be game-changing.

Three wins in a single world cup tournament were the most an African team has ever achieved.

Nevertheless, to equal or improve such a mark might be an ambitious prospect, but not impossible to achieve, regardless of the level of the Africans' opposition in their Group Phase.

Europeans and their large contingent of teams have been African teams' toughest obstacles, although things tend to change in recent years.

If these three teams think about Nigeria opening its 2006 FIBA World Championship campaign by upsetting then Serbia and Montenegro, or bearing in mind Angola's triumph over The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MKD) at the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, then it is fair to dream of wins in this year's FIBA flagship tournament.

Although the Nigerians finished that remarkable showing with a 2-4 record, they advanced to the second round of the competition, losing by a point to Germany in the final seconds of the Eight-Finals.

Obviously, the Nigerians had the likes of top performers such as Ime Udoka and Gabe Muoneke in the roster, who are just as good as Mouhammad Faye of Senegal or even Egypt's Ibrahim El Gammal.

In order to turn the page, African teams at Spain 2014 should not treat, neither European nor the Americas teams as unbeatable.

However, taking on France, Serbia and hosts Spain in Group A seems a quest for Egypt who returns to the competition for the first time in two decades, especially when the North African will play without their inspiring player Assem Marei, ruled out with a knee injury.

For Senegal, the challenge begins by improving their combined 1-9 record in the last two world cup appearances.

Angola, Egypt and Senegal are rated as underdogs in their respective groups, especially because of the competitiveness level they currently display, and more importantly because of their historic in the tournament.

The three teams head to Spain with modest results off their world cups preparations.

Over the course of the past three decades, Angola have won at least three games on two occasions, which helped the African champions progress in the FIBA bwin World Ranking.

At the 1990 FIBA World Championship, Angola managed a 3-5 record in the 16-team event.

Sixteen years later, in Japan in 2006, they finished ninth in the 24-team showpiece, accomplishing the best result by an African team in the history of the competition thanks to a 3-3 record.

However, when African teams followers expected an improvement at Turkey 2010, Cote d'Ivoire beat Puerto Rico but finished 1-4, Tunisia finished winless in five games, while Angola fell in the second round to go home with two victories and four defeats.

Without meaning to sound pessimistic, three wins at the world stage level seems like a mirage for African national teams, which makes this year's World Cup a career-challenge for the likes of Joaquim Gomes and Eduardo Mingas who are set to appear in the tournament for the fourth consecutive time.  

Julio Chitunda


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Julio Chitunda

Julio Chitunda

With African Message, Julio Chitunda sheds light on the state of basketball in the world's second largest continent. A former semi-professional player and journalism graduate from Lisbon, Chitunda has covered the sport since 1998. After starting out in Portugal by providing coverage for several media organisations, he became a contributor to fiba.com in 2004. He is a fervent advocate of basketball in Africa and through his column will look at the game on all levels throughout the continent.