TRIPOLI - Angola became the first side to book a trip to the 2010 FIBA World Championship in the 2009 race by beating Tunisia 79-69 in Friday’s first Afrobasket Semi-Final in Libya.
Joaquim ‘Kika’ Gomes led the way for the defending African champions with 18 points, including a two-of-three effort from behind the arc, and also pulled down seven rebounds.
Angola, the dominant side on the continent in recent years, also got 15 points from Carlos Morais and 14 from big man Eduardo Mingas.
Morais was three of four shooting from long range while Gomes and Mingas each pulled down seven rebounds.
The Angolans’ qualification for Turkey will bring back memories of their terrific run at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.
In that tournament, they will be best remembered for taking Dirk Nowitzki and Germany to triple overtime in the Preliminary Round before falling 108-103.
They still advanced to the Eight-Finals before losing a hard-fought game to France, 68-62.
After hosting the Afrobasket in 2007 and winning gold, Angola competed at last year’s Olympics in China.
Reaching the big event in Turkey next year, therefore, has continued an incredible run of playing in major tournaments for the African giants.
Tunisia were surprise semi-finalists in Libya and they gave Angola fits. They led by as many as three points in the contest and even won the rebounding battle 36-30.
Atef Maoua had 16 points in defeat for Tunisia, who can still reach the FIBA World Championship if they win the bronze-medal game in Libya against the loser of the second Semi-Final between the Ivory Coast or Cameroon.