There was a pure display of basketball wizardry as Cape Verde held off a late resurgence from South Sudan to secure their second win at the three-nation FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers Invitational Tournament.
Cape Verde’s deputy coach Danielson Miranda has stated his side will head into their second game with great determination but South Sudan proved the more resilient side capping of the first quarter with a 22-16 lead.
The second quarter was a back and forth tale as Fidel Mendoca and Anderson Correira both churned in 24 points while Sekouba Conde climbed from the bench to nail 11 points and 6 rebounds to ensure Cape Verde walked into the dugout with a 48-46 domination by the end of the second quarter.
South Sudan’s forward Ngor Kuany was in fine form drilling 16 points to maintain suspense in the game.
Cape Verde dominated the third quarter forcing South Sudan to fouls and moving to the charity line to convert 59 percent of their 39 attempts.
Sekouba Conde orchestrated Cape Verde’s offense, dominating both ends of the court with 24 points and 11 rebounds. His four defensive rebounds cooled off South Sudan’s verve to tie the game.
His teammate Anderson Correira contributed 24 points while Fidel Mendoca added 16 points with Shane Da Rosa chipping 13 points.
26 year-old Ngor Kuany netted a team high 19 points with South Sudan’s bench contributing 32 points. Despite out-rebounding Cape Verde, South Sudan’s late rejuvenation at the end of fourth quarter was in vain with the Islanders clinching a 91-85 win.
“We’ve been fighting to return to this stage of African basketball,” Cape Verde point guard Fidel Mendonca told FIBA.basketball. “We came here to fight and we had a very good game. It’s a really good thing that we can make it to the Qualifiers of the AfroBasket.
“South Sudan should be proud of themselves. They are a young team but played a great game today and I think it was a close one.
“Our experience was helpful against a very good South Sudanese team. They were very physical but we were able to contain them.”
“We hope this qualification to the next round can spur Cape Verdean authorities to invest more in basketball and encourage grassroots projects in the country,” Mendonca hinted dedicating the victory to the side’s coach and all Cape Verdeans.
South Sudan were left gnashing their teeth after a late revival proved inefficient but the side’s coach Ajou Deng will rather take away the positives.
“We are a young nation and this is our second tournament. I’m happy with what my players showed today,” he said.
“Cape Verde played some great defense and we lost focus at some point in the game but these things happen.”
Quizzed if South Sudan’s second game against Chad on Saturday will be void of intensity, Ajou Deng responded, “We show up at every game to win. We want to show to the world the sort of basketball we are capable of playing.
“Ending this tournament with a win will be a good thing for future generations. The future is bright for us and we just need to keep working hard to get beyond this stage next time.”
South Sudan and Chad clashed on Saturday in the last game which ended 100-69 for the Bright Stars in their last game of the three-nation FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers Invitational Tournament as Cape Verde advance to the Qualifiers where they will be facing Egypt, Morocco and Uganda in Group E in November in Alexandria.