Action returns on Friday in the FIBA Africa Basketball League (FIBA ABL) in Group D at the Palais de Sports Mahamasina in Antananarivo, Madagascar where hosts Club Ominisport Police Nationale (COSPN) come up against 2015 champions Petro Atletico de Luanda of Angola, Smouha of Egypt and DR Congo’s BC Mazembe from Friday February 15- Sunday 17.
Two top teams from the group will join the qualified teams from Group A in the knock out stage of the FIBA ABL scheduled for next month. Primeiro de Agosto and Al Ahly are the qualified teams from Group A.
According to fiba.basketball, some signings were made ahead of the Group D games this weekend. Zone 7 champions COSPN made significant signings including arrival of a new head coach, Julien Chaignot and two players Alpha Toure from France and Tunisian guard Mohamed Mzoughi.
Smouha (L) who will be making their debut in the continental club championship finished second behind Al Ahly in the FIBA Africa Zone 5 qualifier. New recruits Nigeria’s D’Tigers Augustine Okosun and Adamu Saaka will hope for a good outing with the Egyptians.
Okosun featured for the D’Tigers during the June window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in Lagos.
In Friday’s games, BC Mazembe will take on Smouha while host COSPN will face Petro Luanda in the second game of the day.
Primeiro de Agosto of Angola: Agosto became the first team to advance to the Elite 8 with one game to spare and eventually finished with a 3-0 record in Cairo, Egypt. They announced their return to the continent with a bang and on course for their 9th continental title.
Agosto head coach Paulo Macedo also marked his return to the club after he parted ways in 2014 by edging closer to his target. His coaching prowess helped Agosto conquer Group C in Egypt.
Top performers: Islando Manuel (15.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG), Manny Quezada (11.3 PPG, 3,3 APG) Pedro Bastos (9.7 PPG and Eduardo Mingas (9.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG)
Al Ahly: The host had to sweat it out to become the second club to advance to the second round of the FIBA Africa Basketball League. They finished with a 2-1 record on home court to join Primeiro D’ Agosto in the knock out stage of the tournament where teams will play home and away games in a bid to reach the final four scheduled for May.
Top performers: Reginald Holmes (25.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG), Todd O’ Brien (8.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG), Ramy Gunady (10.3 PPG, 3.0 APG) and Deuce Bello 10.3 PPG.
Rwanda Energy Group Basketball Club didn’t just add the numbers in the FIBA ABL, they made their maiden outing on the continent worthy of the wild card awarded to them. REG recorded one win out of three games played in the group stage which was not enough to keep them in the competition. REG won their opening game against Mozambique’s Ferroviario Beira but were outclassed by Agosto who are a more experienced side on the continent, with an experienced coach, Paulo Macedo. Despite efforts made in the third game to get them to the knock out stage, REG were stopped by Al Ahly after they surrendered their lead in the last 2 minutes of the game.
REG will hope to consolidate on this outing when next they return to the continent.
Engelbert Beleck and Kenny Gasana were both pivotal for the Rwandan team. Beleck a 20 year old Cameroonian scored a double-double in two consecutive games against Ferroviario Beira on Friday and Al Ahly on Saturday. He averaged 15.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG and 3.7 APG.
Gasana on the other hand, plays for the Rwandan national team and never disappointed as he contributed at both ends of the floor and also making a double-double in one of the games. The REG guard averaged 17.3 PPG and 9.3 RPG.
Ferroviario Beira: The Mozambicans failed to win a game in the group but went close to beating Al Ahly in their second game led by Uganda and Africa’s finest three point shooter Robinson Opong. Opong averaged 13.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 7.0 3PAPG and a double-double.
Top Performer: Robinson Opong and Helton Ubisse (12.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG).