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Abidjan, the place for the AfroBasket 2013

SHEFFIELD (Júlio Chitunda's African Message) - It has not been officially re-confirmed, but let us assume the AfroBasket 2013 will in fact take place in Abidjan from 20 to 31 August unlike reports that suggested the competition could have been staged elsewhere because of technical delays.

In early May, FIBA Africa gave both the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the Ivory Coast Basketball Federation 45 days to finish part of the construction works of a new arena as well as refurbishment works at the Palais des Sports, which they thought were behind schedule, otherwise the country would have been stripped of the organisation of the AfroBasket 2013.

At the time, the inevitable questions emerged, including "What if Ivory Coast missed out on the deadline to finish the construction works?" or "Which countries could have taken over?"

Instead, and as I far as I am aware, not a single African nation publicly showed interest to host this summer's AfroBasket with only three months to go before the tournament.

The deadline was 15 June, the day of a final visit at the construction site by FIBA Africa officials. It was expected there would be a public statement following the assessment by Africa basketball governing body.

Instead, no official statement was issued, although there is a growing belief that the tournament will definitely take place in Abidjan, regardless of the advanced construction works.

A week before the deadline, I exchanged some messages on twitter with Alain Lobognon (@ALAINLOBOG), Ivory Coast's Minister of Sports, who provided some pictures of the construction works of the new arena dated 8 June. At the time, Mr Lobognon believed he had no doubts the tournament was going to take place in Abidjan.

Two days before the deadline expired, the Ivory Coast Government official posted pictures from inside the new arena showing visible progress.

However, a few questions remained unanswered.

If the tournament is to be staged in Abidjan, is FIBA Africa and its board satisfied with the venues expected to host Africa's flagship tournament? Will technical problems affect the course of the tournament? With some delays and uncertainty, what do the AfroBasket's business partners have in mind?

Whether the site will be sufficiently equipped or not for the competition is something that, for now, does not seem to be bothering the 16 participating teams as they get ready with Abidjan in mind.

Half of the 16 teams are already carrying out their training camps hoping to make the most of Abidjan 2013.

Here is what title-contenders are up to with two months to go before the competition: AfroBasket reigning champions Tunisia alongside their north African neighbours Algeria and Egypt are currently participating in the Mediterranean Games in Turkey; hosts Ivory Coast were expected to start their training camp on Sunday 24 June; Nigeria are getting ready to travel to China for the 9th Borislav Stankovic Cup with only three London Olympians in the squad; Cameroon have finally appointed Lazare Adingono as their head coach; Angola are holding a training camp on home soil before travelling to Spain in July; Senegal's head coach Cheik Sarr has announced his team's objectives for the tournament.

Let Abidjan become an acceptable place for the exposure of the African basketball.

Júlio Chitunda


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