TUNIS - Senegal on Thursday made a tremendous statement of their FIBA AfroBasket 2017 intentions by beating Angola 66-57 to join Nigeria, Tunisia and Morocco in the Semi-Finals.
Although Senegal trailed 38-34 at the break, and Gorgui Dieng didn't score his first field-goals until early in the third quarter, the Senegalese stepped up when it mattered most to beat Angola for the third straight time in the history of the competition.
Louis Adams, Clevin Hannah and Maurice Ndour combined for 31 Senegal points, while Leonel Paulo finished with a game-high 17 points in the losing cause.
"Credit to Senegal, they were the better team," Angolan center Yanick Moreira later told FIBA.basketball.
"We have to review what went wrong, regroup and keep our heads held high. Carlos [Morais], Olimpio Cipriano and myself could have done better, but we'll be back," Moreira noted.
Dieng shared his views on the victory: "Angola - they are great shooters - but we knew that their bench wasn't very deep, so we finished the game off in the fourth quarter."
With the win, Senegal reached the last four of the tournament for the third time in a row, advancing to Friday's Semi-Finals to take on defending champions Nigeria.
With three players - Mbamalu Bryant, Ike Diogu and Ikechukwu Nwamu- scoring 20 points or more, the reigning champions Nigeria saw off Cameroon 106-91.
Although Cameroon forward Benoit Mbala returns home empty-handed, he made his named heard by setting a tournament-high 32 points.
Nwamu, who had one of the flashiest plays of the tournament so far, later admitted that they are "taking one game at a time, and be prepared for Friday's Semi-Finals."
Playing in front of 11,000 singing supporters, hosts Tunisia outlasted the Democratic Republic of Congo 81-60, reaching the semis for the second straight time.
Tunisia skipper Makram Ben Romdhane was huge finishing with game-highs 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Evariste Shonganya, who last played for Tunisian side Monastir contributed 19 points and nine rebounds for the Congolese.
"It was a strange experience for me playing against Tunisia because some of their supporters usually cheer on for me," the 2.01m forward explained.
"We stepped on the floor trying to win and reach the Semi-Finals. But Tunisia were more cautious and experienced. We would have loved to give our people back home this victory, but it wasn't our day."
While the Congolese, who made their first FIBA AfroBasket appearance since 2007, return home, the Tunisians will take on Morocco, who reached the last four for the first time in 37 years thanks to a 66-62 triumph over Egypt.