Photo: FIBA

The semifinals of AfroBasket 2021 are now set after Tunisia and Cape Verde won today to punch their ticket to the next round.

In the first game of the day, Tunisia took down the young, upstart South Sudan team 80-68.

Salah Mejri led Tunisia with 20 points and seven rebounds and shot an efficient 8-of-15 from the field.

Michael Roll also chipped in 17 points on 4-of-8 shooting from three-point.

Makram Ben Romdhane recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

South Sudan’s two leading scorers Dhieu Deing and Kuany Kuany had some struggles, combining for three points on 1-of-13 shooting from the field and 1-of-9 from three point.

Tunisia (4-0) will now face Cape Verde in the semifinals on Sept. 4, as they attempt to defend their AfroBasket 2017 title.

Despite the tough loss, the future is bright for South Sudan.

“I could not have been more impressed with the young team from South Sudan,” said Tunisia head coach Dirk Bauermann. “They have done a tremendous job; they really embody the most modern version of basketball.”

South Sudan head coach Royal Ivey praised his team and showed his appreciation for them.

“It’s definitely been a great opportunity coaching these guys,” he said. “I am kind of lost for words because those guys did everything I asked them to do from day one. We’ve been here [Kigali] for almost a month. They sacrificed time with their families, they sacrificed their freedom being in the bubble, the guys worked hard. I am so appreciative of this young team.”

South Sudan finishes their first-ever AfroBasket 3-2 and is a team to keep an eye on in the near future on the continent of Africa.

In the final game of the day, Cape Verde defeated Uganda 79-71.

Cape Verde big man Walter Tavares stuffed the stat sheet with 23 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and five blocks.

Jeffrey Xavier almost recorded a triple-double with 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Uganda was led by 19-year-old Arthur Kaluma who scored 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field, but they struggled as a team, shooting 32.9 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from three-point.

Newly signed Toronto Raptor Ish Wainright recorded 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Cape Verde reaches the AfroBasket semifinals for the first time since 2007, where they will play Tunisia on Sept. 4.

“We are not done, we want more,” said Xavier. “Tunisia is a great team, but in two days we are going to step on the court with the same approach to the game.”

“The utmost respect to their coach,” said Uganda head coach George Galanopoulos. “It was a battle the first time we played them [in the November 2020 Qualifiers], it was a battle this time. Hopefully, it’s not the last time we see them. It’s a great challenge to play that team, well-coached, great players. Can’t say enough things. I think Tunisia will need to work for it, no offense.”

Uganda meanwhile, like South Sudan, is another young, up-and-coming team in Africa who has a bright future ahead of them.

Uganda finishes the tournament 2-3, their best-ever performance at an AfroBasket.

The two semifinal matchups:

Sept. 4: Cape Verde vs. Tunisia, followed by Cote d’Ivoire vs. Senegal; winner of each game will meet in the championship on Sept. 5.