It won’t project which five African teams will qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, but this Power Ranking aims to bring you a snapshot of the potential of the eight teams that will open the African Qualifiers race.
And if the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 that saw Tunisia retain their continental title is anything to go by, then take note, as half of the teams that competed in Kigali in August-September have now landed in Angola for what will be a scintillating 18-month race for the World Cup 2023.
Based on the on the latest additions, absences and moves involving the eight teams from Groups A and C, this is what the Power Ranking looks like.
African Qualifiers 2019 Record: 10-2
Nigeria chase their second straight World Cup appearance since 2019
FIBA World Ranking (Africa) presented by Nike: 1st
The most important note in the build-up to the first window of the African Qualifiers is that Nigeria shouldn’t be judged by their poor campaign at AfroBasket 2021 where they finished 12th – their worst result – in the history of AfroBasket.
The winners of the AfroBasket 2015 arrived in Angola with an experienced squad, including members of the team that helped Nigeria claim a 10-2 record in the African Qualifiers 2019.
The inclusion of Ben Uzoh, Ike Diogu, Keith Omeorah and Jordan Ogundiran added a massive value to this Nigerian team that will go up against Cape Verde, Mali and Uganda in Group A.
The question mark about Nigeria, however, is whether or not they will be able to overcome their limited time of preparation and embrace coach Julius Nwosu’s mindset in such a short period of time. But with half of a team that has played together for sometime now, D’Tigers look capable of a strong start to the African Qualifiers.
2 COTE D’IVOIRE
African Qualifiers 2019: 7-5
Cote d’Ivoire scooped the last of five tickets for Africa for China 2019
FIBA World Ranking (Africa) presented by Nike: 5th
Cote d’Ivoire raised eyebrows after finishing second at AfroBasket 2021 three months ago in Rwanda. And, the plan, they insist, is to keep the momentum and become a solid programme.
The Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire won’t count with neither Matt Costello, Charles Abouo nor Deon Thompson in Benguela, but having coach Natxo Lezkano back at the helm and the return of the likes of Guy Edi, Souleymane Diabate speak volumes about the team’s capability.
If Cote d’Ivoire can pass their biggest text on Day 1 of the first window of the African Qualifiers when they face Angola, it’ll be safe to say this team is legitimately back at the top of African basketball.
African Qualifiers 2019 Record: 9-3
Angola have competed at the last five editions of the World Cup.
FIBA World Ranking (Africa) presented by Nike: 3rd
When it comes to analysing the Angolan team, Carlos Morais’ name come atop one way or another. However, the veteran sharpshooter, along with Leonel Paulo, is unavailable for the this campaign due to health concerns.
Could those two absences affect Angola’s chances? Not quite, it seems. These three games will represent a major opportunity for Angolan newcomers, who desperately wait for an opportunity like this to showcase their talent on the big stage.
Based on his production during the AfroBasket 2021, Jilson Bango emerges as a potential future leader of this Angolan team.
And, having two talented point guards in Childe Dundao and Gerson Domingos increases Angola’s chances of positive start to the African Qualifiers.
But what makes this Angola a threat is the fact that the eleven-time African have never lost an official game on home soil. Angola have hosted three editions of the AfroBasket (1989, 1999 and 2007) and they escaped undefeated from all of those championships.
Even when Angola hosted two windows of the World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers in November 2017 and December 2018 they prevailed.
4 CAPE VERDE
African Qualifiers 2019 Record: Didn’t participate
The Islanders have never qualifiers for the World Cup
FIBA World Ranking (Africa) presented by Nike: 16th
Cape Verde keep fond memories of playing in Benguela. As well as being the birth place of their head coach Emanuel Trovoada, it was in the coastal Angolan city that the Islanders played the Group Phase of the AfroBasket 2007, paving they way for a successful campaign where they finished third, which represents Cape Verde’s biggest achievement in African basketball history.
Center Walter Tavares may be the team’s biggest absence, but the addition of prolific guards Jeff Xavier and Shane da Rosa boost the team’s backcourt.
African Qualifiers 2019 Record: 1-5
Uganda were eliminated in the first round of the African Qualifiers 2019
FIBA World Ranking (Africa) presented by Nike: 13th
Finishing sixth at AfroBasket 2021 three months ago became Uganda’s best result in Africa’s premier basketball tournament.
However, there are more questions than answers about the Silverbacks that only time will tell.
An unquestionable talented team with a potential to go places, Uganda will face Nigeria for the second time in three months and will need to work hard and try to beat D’Tigers for the second time since the AfroBasket 2021.
An inevitable question is whether the Silverbacks can continue to build-up on their AfroBasket success without their pivotal star Ishmail Wainwright, who has signed for the Phoenix Suns. How about playing without the electrifying Arthur Kaluma?
One thing is certain, whatever the circumstances this Uganda team cannot be overlooked, especially because they have faced Nigeria, Mali and Cape Verde before.
6 CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
African Qualifiers 2019 Record: 6-6
The Central African last played in the World Cup in 1974
FIBA World Ranking (Africa) presented by Nike: 10th
The good news for Central African Republic fans is that Evans Ganapamo, who sat out the AfroBasket 2021 due to an injury, is in great shape and available to play just like he did earlier last month when he paced Cape Tigers in the first round of the Basketball Africa League qualifiers.
African Qualifiers 2019 Record: 3-9
Mali continue to search for their first World Cup appearance
FIBA World Ranking (Africa) presented by Nike: 9th
Over the past few years, the expectation has been to see Mali young guns make it to the senior team after shocking the world by finishing second in the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup two years ago.
African Qualifiers 2019 Record: 0-6
FIBA World Ranking (Africa) presented by Nike: 21st
Coach Zeljko Zecevic continues his attempt to transform Guinean basketball into a powerhouse on the continent, and taking on Angola, Cote d’Ivoire and Central African Republic emerges as test for the West Africans’ aspirations.
Guinea stunned Egypt and Rwanda at AfroBasket 2021, but can they repeat their winning campaign in Benguela? Ranking Guinea eight doesn’t necessary rule them out from causing some damage in the first window of the African Qualifiers.
*The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author.