Sixteen teams started the FIBA Africa Basketball League in February 2019 but the boys have now been separated from the men leaving just four teams to fight for the ultimate prize from May 24-26 at Kilamba Arena in Luanda, Angola.
There will be two semi-final games on May 24th,with the winners progressing to the Final scheduled for May 26th while the losers will play in the Third-Place game.
8-time champions Primeiro de Agosto of Angola, defending champions Association Sportive Sale of Morocco and two debutants Tunisia’s Jeunesse Sportive Kairouanaise and Smouha of Egypt make up the four teams in the last four.
The teams will know their opponents at the Final Four draw which will take place on Saturday, April 27th at the FIBA Africa headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
JS Kairouan are the only team from the last four who have lost one of their games in this competition while the other three are on a 5 game unbeaten run.
Let us take a look at how the four teams got here, their performance in the Elite 8 and potential most valuable players in each team.
AGOSTO are title favourites in this year’s competition having won the most titles, 8, in Africa. They justified that by getting to the final four which was Coach Paulo Macedo’s first target after his return since 2013. Next on his bucket list is to win the trophy which could be done on home court.
The Angolan team are undefeated in 5 games beating all three opponents, Al Ahly, Rwanda Energy Basketball Club and Ferroviaro de Beira in Group C and a double header against local rivals Petro Atletico de Luanda in the Elite 8 of the FIBA Africa Basketball League.
MVP Watch: Manny Quezada
Quezada led Agosto against his former side, Petro Atletico de Luanda and was pivotal in the group stage for the Angolans. Quezada got a career-high 36 points against Petro Atletico in the first leg breaking the record for most points scored in a game.
The Domnican International averages 16.2 PPG and 4.6 APG assists in the competition.
ASSOCIATION SPORTIVE DE SALE are also undefeated in 5 games, 4 wins and a 69 all draw to Civil Defenders Basketball Club in the first leg played in Nigeria. The defending champions were made to dig deep to beat the hard fighting Nigerians in the second leg who were determined to cause an upset after putting up a wonderful performance two weeks earlier.
AS Sale’s hopes of winning the title back-to-back remain on course this year.
MVP Watch: Abderrahim Najah
Najah was the man to beat at both ends of the floor as he proved why his team missed him in the Elite 8 first leg against Defenders in Abuja. He practically carried his team to the final four with an impressive 27 points and nine rebounds attracting cheers from the crowd.
Najah averages 14.3 PPG, 16.7 RPG and 1.3 APG in the championship.
SMOUHA another team who are yet to taste defeat defied all odds to make it to the last four. Just like Agosto, they also beat their compatriots Al Ahly in the two game series in the Elite 8 of the FIBA Africa Basketball League.
Led by three foreigners in the first leg, Todd O’Brien 26 points, 14 rebounds and two assists, James Justice Jr: 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and Adamu Saaka: 26 points, three rebounds and three assists, Smouha defeated the 2016 champions in front of their fans in Cairo. They returned to their own court in Alexandria two weeks later to replicate same performance with a 179- 163 win on aggregate.
Smouha are not satisfied reaching the final four they are also in contention for the title on their debut outing of FIBA Africa’s elite club championship.
MVP Watch: James Justice
Led by James Justice who has been consistent all through the tournament, he recorded 10 assists in the second leg against Al Ahly which is the second highest after AS Sale’s Yassine El Mahsini’s 13 made in a game.
Justice averages 18.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 5.8 APG in 5 games played in the competition.
JEUNESSE SPORTIVE KAIROUANAISE are the second debutant who have a 4-1 record in the competition with their loss coming against defending champions AS Sale of Morocco in the group stage.
No one would have expected them to topple their local rivals, Etoile Sportive Rades in both legs. Interestingly, they booted out Tunisian champions and 2017 finalists Etoile Sportive Rades in a slim win with both legs ending by a point 69-68 in Kairouan and 74-73 in Rades two weeks later.
MVP Watch: Maodo Nguirane
The Senegalese have made an average of 18.4 PPG and 11.4 RPG so far in the competition. He led JSK to the last four with his outstanding performance and was carried on fans’s shoulders who were ecstatic about his contributions to the team.