Eleven-time champions Angola and reigning champions Tunisia both won their three games after the first round of the 2019 World Cup qualifiers hosted in Luanda and Yaounde respectively.
16 teams grouped into four with two cities picked in each of the groups as hosts for the first and second phase of the world cup qualifiers.
Under the new system, the top-three teams of each group will advance to the decisive 12-team round of the qualifiers, which will see national teams play home-and-away games, while the teams that finish bottom of their respective groups will be eliminated
For Angola, head coach Will Voigt wasted no time to get the former champions in cruise control amassing three wins in as many games to top Group C.
The former D’Tigers coach who got appointed two weeks to the qualifiers has been mandated to rebuild a formidable team whose last outing at a major competition, 2017 Afrobasket, finished 7th for the first time since 1981.
In their opening game, Angola overcame a stubborn Moroccan side 62-56 points that fielded only eight players following the loss of their luggage on arrival in Luanda before seeing off a tough challenge from rejuvenated Egyptian side and DR Congo.
Voigt admitted the sell out crowd at the Kilamba Arena that seats 11,500 people inspired them to victory.
“I am really proud of the entire team. We knew it was going to be a tough tournament but with the support of the home crowd, we managed to win all the three games and that’s important for us,” he told FIBA.com.
Meanwhile, reigning Africa champions, Tunisia overcame a late scare to beat Cameroon 67-66 points win in the last game in Yaounde.
Tunisia have now extended their head-to-head advantage over Cameroon to 4-0 dating back to 2009.
Cameroon finished second with a 2-1 mark, Chad returned home with a 1-2 while Guinea lost all their three games.
Other windows for the World Cup qualifiers will be in February 19-27, June 25-July 3, September 10-18 and November 26-December 4 2018; and February 20-28 2019.
Group B and D will play in the next FIBA window in February next year. Nigeria, Mali, Rwanda and Uganda in Group B while Senegal, Mozambique, Cote’d Ivore and Central African Republic in Group D.
Africa will for the first time qualify five teams for FIBA’s flagship event in China.