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2014 FIBA World Cup: Group D Preview – Angola
Craig Rayner takes a look at the Australian Boomers' final Group D opponent in Angola in the lead up to the 2014 FIBA World Cup for men.
Australia's fate could hinge on their last Group D match at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and it could come with a great sense of déjà vu as they take on Angola as the knockout stage looms.
The Boomers not only squared off against Angola at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey in the group stages, but it too was their last group match. Back n 2010 Australia’s progression to the next round was at stake, with the Boomers coming away with a 76-55 victory to advance.
In that Angolan match-up, Australia’s strategy from the outset was simple - expose Angola’s lack of height and size - as the ball was fed inside to center Aleks Maric consistently during the 1st quarter. Angola’s squad for this year’s World Cup is largely similar to the undersized one that was victorious at last year’s Afrobasket in Côte d'Ivoire. While they accounted for Egypt in the final, they are likely to again be vulnerable once again against opponents featuring a front court with size.
It was Guard Carlos Morais who led Angola at 2013 Afrobasket with 15.9 points per game, including 21 points in the final and should play a pivotal role once again in Spain. However Angola’s lack of height was evident in last year’s tournament, exposing them at the defensive end where they ranked just 13th out of 16 teams in blocks per game.
Angola’s one large body in this year’s squad is 211cm Yanick Moreira who last season played under legendary coach Larry Brown at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Moreira figured early in Angola’s calculations for last year’s Afrobasket but was not part of the final victorious squad.
It must be said Angola has been massively dominant in their home continent of Africa, having won all but two African Championships over the past two decades (they most recently come up short in 2011 where they went down to Tunisia in the championship game in Madagascar). However Angola’s performances in World Championships and Olympics are a little more mainstream with their best finish being a 9th at the 2006 World Championships in Japan. Angola’s current ranking of 15th is more consistent with where they have historically finished on the world stage.
While most countries started their lead in matches to the World Cup in late July and early August, Angola’s preparations started back in June with a small tournament in Egypt. Although they were victorious in a re-match with 2013 Afrobasket finalists Egypt, a local side took the tournament overcoming Angola in the final with a 1-point victory in overtime.
An Angolan “B” team led by national team veteran Joaquim Gomes, who still remains part of the main squad for Spain, recently competed at the Stankovic Cup in China. They eventually fell short against the hosts in the play-off for third place.
The preparations for Angola’s main squad have shifted up a gear with recent games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where they went down 60-98 to Brazil and 77-86 to Argentina, both of whom fielded close to full strength teams. Soon the African’s will arrive in Spain for as many as six warm up fixtures including a match in Sevilla against their Spanish hosts.
Australia opens the 2014 FIBA World Cup with a game against Slovenia in Gran Canaria, Spain on August 31 at 1:30am AEST live on ABC2 or online on FIBA's livebasketball.tv.
Preview of Australia's Group D Opponents (in order)
Slovenia (Preview) - 31 August 2014, 1:30am AEST Korea (Preview) - 31 August 2014, 11:30pm AEST Lithuania (Preview) - 3 September 2014, 1:30am AEST Mexico (Preview) - 3 September 2014, 11:30pm AEST Angola - 4 September 2014, 11:30pm AEST