Three former winners as well as reigning champions Angola head a group of eight teams that will do battle today to reach the AfroBasket Women 2015 Semi-Finals in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Against the odds, Egypt – who received a wild card invitation to participate in the tournament – have suddenly become the team to watch out as they will take on tournament hosts Cameroon.
Mozambique (3-2) vs Nigeria (4-1) (14:30)
Nigeria’s D’Tigress opened their AfroBasket Women 2015 campaign losing to Angola, but since then Scott Nnaji’s has regrouped and look transformed.
They enter the Last Eight of the competition really looking more like a title contender.
If statistics are anything to go by, then Nigeria’s tournament-high 88.4 points per game, give them a clear advantage over Mozambique, who score 68.8 points per contest.
Although Nigeria are favourites, Olayinka Sanni says they should be cautious.
“We are looking forward to the competition and we are not going to overlook them,” Sanni said.
“The Angola game was a bit difficult for us, but we are not stuck on that, we came back. We tried to refocus and we regained our confidence with the last four games.”
After losing to Mali and Cameroon, Mozambique made sure to secure Group A’s third spot.
Egypt (EGY)
The question of the moment at AfroBasket Women 2015 is: can Egypt become a giant beater?
Gabon, who returned to the competition after a decade-long absence, will take on Angola.
Without a doubt the highly-anticipated match-up will involve two former Africa champions when Senegal take on Mali.
Mozambique, one the two Africa representatives at 2014 FIBA Women’s World Championship, will square off against title contenders Nigeria.
Deolinda Ngulela (MOZ)
The Southern Africans, who are competing in Yaounde without a number of key players such as Leia Dongue – one of the best Africa-based talents – may be the underdogs in the series. But with veteran guard Deolinda Ngulela running the team’s offense, anything could be possible.
Ngulela, who has averaged 17 points against title contenders Mali and Cameroon, has already proved she is capable of beating whoever opponent comes her way.
Senegal (3-2) v Mali (4-1) (16:45)
Senegal, the 10-time African champions, advanced to the Quarter-Finals after losing to continental rivals Angola and Nigeria in the Group Phase.
But beating Egypt on the final day of the Group Phase gives Moustapha Gaye’s side the confidence needed moving forward in the competition.
Although Senegal tend to score more points and share the ball better than Mali, the game could go either way as there is not a clear-cut favourite.
Mali arrived at AfroBasket Women 2015 after winning the All-Africa Games in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.
They have shown an impressive level of competitiveness throughout the Group Phase and losing by one point to hosts Cameroon does not necessarily diminish their chances in the tournament.
Usually, Amara Traore’s team plays aggressive defense, but it is far from being the most efficient scoring side, especially as it averages 24 turnovers per game.
Kankou Coulibaly, the team’s leading scorer, told that she is yet to find her rhythm but she is rushing to get there against Senegal.
Kankou Coulibaly (MLI)
“In Brazzaville [All Africa Games 2015], I was able to defend and score points, but I haven’t reached my potential yet. I am going to get there. Hopefully, it is going to be in the next round,” she said.
But how can Mali get away with a win?
“We need to be more focused in order to keep our expectations alive,” she concluded.
Egypt (3-2) v Cameroon (5-0) (19:00)
After making a serious statement by beating Angola in the Group Phase, Egypt indicated they were no longer the outsiders in the competition. However, their defeat against Senegal raised questions about their consistency.
Now, taking on hosts Cameroon in front of an expected rowdy crowd should test the North Africans’ ability to face adversity.
In theory Cameroon are favourites to advance to the Semi-Finals for the second time in a row, but surely it won’t come without a fight.
Cameroon are the only undefeated team in the competition, which sums up their potential.
However, for some strange reason, Alain Zedong’s team tend to get off to slow starts. Even against lowly South Africa, Cameroon struggled to take control of the game.
Ramses Lonlack (CMR)
It’s a decisive phase of the competition, and making free throws should be crucial for the hosts as they shot only 57.3 percent from the line in the Group Phase.
Egypt, the youngest team in the tournament averaging just 20 years of age, are very competitive and have dominated Africa youth competitions in recent years.
Should they reach the Semi-Finals, it would be their biggest achievement ever.
Gabon (2-3) v Angola (4-1) (21:15)
Despite the loss to Egypt, defending champions Angola finished top of Group A thanks to their win over Nigeria.
But facing Geraldine Robert’s Gabon should be a challenge for Jaime Covilha’s side.
At first glance, the Angolans, who seek their fifth consecutive appearance in the semis, are favourites, but first, they will need to show their ability to stop Robert, who leads the tournament in scoring and rebounding.
Angola’s rotation is probably their main assets as the team’s bench averages a staggering 36.8 points per game, unlike Gabon’s 4.6.

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