With the competition starting on August 14 and with the Top 10 players to watch list having been issued, along with a preview of both groups, you can now check out our countdown prediction from eight to the coveted number one spot.
8. Uganda UGA
It’s often hard to evaluate Uganda’s real potential and predict where they can end up at major continental competitions, mainly because of the team’s inconsistency. At times Uganda look capable of competing against heavyweight teams on the continent just as much as they can struggle against some of the lower ranked teams.
If Uganda bring the likes of Arthur Kaluma, Adam Seiko, Ishmail Wainright and Den John Geu to Lagos, then this ranking position will feel wholly inaccurate. But without too much disrespect, if they show up with a similar squad to the one that went 0-3 in the last window of the 2023 World Cup African Qualifiers, it’s hard to rank the Silverbacks any higher than this.
7. Guinea GUI
Having Alpha Diallo, Alpha Kaba and rising star Mambourou Mara on the squad – as confirmed by head coach Zeljko Zecevic, is great news for Guinea, Plus, adding Shannon Evans is everything they could have asked for. However, Zecevic’s team will need a productive bench, which is often their Achilles heel.
Group B isn’t necessarily an uncharted territory for Guinea mainly because of their history with Tunisia. Ever since Guinea returned to the African Championship in 2017 – after three decades away from FIBA Africa’s flagship event – they’ve lost four times to Tunisia. But, times are different now. Reigning champions Tunisia have experience some decline, while Guinea have grown in confidence.
6. Congo DR COD
Congo DR is another team that desperately needs to implement a consistent program to capitalize from the immense pool of talented players at their potential disposal.
For instance, during the second and third qualifying windows of the 2023 World Cup African Qualifiers, the Congolese defeated powerhouse Senegal twice in Dakar and Alexandria. But they crashed out in the next window in Alexandria where they showed up with a new coaching staff and also missing key players, despite the addition of Golden State Warriors rising star Jonathan Kuminga.
However, if the Congolese can utilize half of the team that finished fourth at the 2023 FIBA AfroCAN last month, they can do wonders in Lagos, but if they select a brand new team things might be hard for DR Congo.
5. Mali MLI
It remains to be seen what Mali have to offer after pulling out of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers. Obviously Mali did poorly in the FIBA AfroCan last month, but the team’s talent and potential is never in question.
And if they make the necessary adjustments and learned from that FIBA AfroCAN experience, where they finished winless and last in the 12-team event, they will be safe in Lagos and might just cause some mayhem.
4. Cameroon CMR
Cameroon are headed to Lagos with a relatively new team compared to the one that finished 0-3 at FIBA AfroCAN in Luanda. And the return of former Cameroonian international Alfred Aboya at the helm of the indomitable Lions might just bring a new playing style.
Under Aboya, Cameroon went 3-3 in the last two windows of the 2023 World Cup African Qualifiers. If Cameroon can beat Tunisia in Group B it’s be a game-changing moment for a team that has shown so much potential over the years, but is yet to become a Top Five nation in Africa.
3. Tunisia TUN
The return of Mario Palma at the helm of Tunisia after the abrupt departure for Erman Kunter represents a major boost for the reigning African champions. And, they desperately need to return to their glory days after missing out on the qualification to this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Angolan-Portuguese Palma and Tunisia had parted ways after the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Whether or not Palma – the most successful coach in African basketball with five AfroBasket titles, can revive Tunisia’s Olympics hope will be seen over time. But this Tunisia team is very likely to look different in Lagos.
2. Senegal SEN
One of Senegal’s most coveted aspirations is the Olympics. The only African heavyweight that hasn’t appeared in the Olympics in the last four decades, Senegal look at the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Lagos as an opportunity to re-write history.
There’s no question that Senegal will be challenged in the Nigerian capital, but if they can overcome hosts Nigeria in Group A, and this is not an improbable dream, the Lions will roar towards the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year.
In the build-up to the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament Nigeria can’t contemplate any other result on home soil, and that’s what makes them the number one team in this Power Ranking.
But can they be challenged? Absolutely. Can they live up to expectations? Well, quite simply, they have to. Do they have the team and coaching staff to successfully protect their home court? Yes, D’Tigers have a decent team, but the game against Senegal on Monday, August 14 will tell us more about this team’s actual identity and reality.