RADES (AfroBasket 2015) – Sunday is AfroBasket 2015 Final day, and Nigeria and Angola will battle out for the top prize of the competition in Rades, on the outskirts of Tunis, Tunisia.
It will be a re-match of the AfroBasket 2003 Final, in which the Angolans topped the Nigerians, 86-65, in Alexandria, Egypt, to secure qualification for the 2004 Athen Olympic Games.
The winner of Sunday’s Final between these two teams will secure direct qualification for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, while the team that finishes second – along with those that finish third and fourth – will claim places in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Both Nigeria and Angola reached the Final with 5-1 marks after upsetting Senegal as well as hosts Tunisia respectively in Saturday’s Semi-Finals.
Although Angola currently hold a 9-0 head-to-head advantage over Nigeria dating back to 1987, they will need to excel to retain the continental title secured in 2013.
After all this is a match-up between the 11-time African champions Angola against a team often described as one of the most talented in the competition.
Meanwhile, Nigeria, who are yet to win a continental crown, enter the Final with a better overall rating.
Will Voigt’s team has the tournament’s highest scoring rate with an average of 84 points per game.
They also enjoy the best field goal percentage (44.7 percent) of the competition.
The Nigerians are the second tallest team in the tournament – after Senegal – and clear the boards better than any other team with 46.5 rebounds per game.
Chamberlain Oguchi, the team’s leading scorer (16.0 points per game) who faced the Angolans in 2009, should remain as relevant for the Western Africans.
The Angolans’ aggressive defense could play a part, but having to go up against athletic players such as Olaseni Lawal, Alade Aminu and Al-Farouq Aminu could prove problematic for the title holders.
If statistics are anything to go by, then Nigeria head into the Final as favourites, but the Angolans’ mentality of going for a 12th continental title may boost their confidence.
Asked about the possibility of winning the championship, Angola’s Yanick Moreira said: “That’s the reason we are here.”
It remains to be seen if Africa crowns a new champions on Sunday or if Angola will celebrate a successful title defence.