RADES (AfroBasket 2015) – Angola, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia on Thursday booked their places in Semi-Finals of AfroBasket 2015.
Playing in front of a sellout crowd at Salle Omnisport de Rades, on the outskirts of Tunis, hosts Tunisia defeated Mali 67-60 to set up a Semi-Final battle with reigning champions Angola on Saturday.
As local fans cheered loudly for every right move their heroes executed, Mali responded even though they never led.
Mourad El Mabrouk led Tunisia with 16 points, Makram Ben Romdhane added a dozen and Tunisia improved to 5-0.
The home side led by 19 in the second quarter, but Mali got back in the game in a flash and trailed just 33-24 at half-time.
Tunisia entered the final quarter up 46-35 before Mali cut the deficit to 62-56 with 32 seconds left, but it was too little late as the Tunisians had already a foot in the last four.
In the highly-anticipated game of the day, a re-match of the AfroBasket 2013 Final, Angola proved too much for Egypt as they reached the last four with an 83-63 victory.
With the win, the 11-time African champions reached the Semi-Finals of Africa’s flagship event for the 17th consecutive time.
Carlos Morais hit 4 of his 10 three-point attempts to propel the Angolans with a game-high 19 points.
Egypt’s Ehab Amin made 4 attempts from behind the arc of his own as part of a team-high 18 points, but the Angolans had the game firmly under control, leading by as many as 20 points.
Senegal clinched a place in the Semi-Finals with a comprehensive 75-58 win over Algeria.
Once again, Gorgui Dieng stood out with game-highs of 20 points and 17 rebounds as the Senegalese took a step closer to claiming their first continental title since 1997.
Cheikh Sarr’s team reached the Semi-Finals for the second time in a row and will face Nigeria, a team they defeated in the Quarter-Finals of AfroBasket 2013.
In a match-up between two of the three teams that received wild cards to participate in the tournament, Algeria never led as the Western Africans dominated the contest throughout.
Earlier in the day, Nigeria became the first team to reach the tournament Semi-Finals after trouncing Gabon 88-64.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Michael Umeh and Michael Gbinije combined for 43 Nigeria points as Will Voigt’s men were in control for much of the contest.
A day after pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the tournament so far by eliminating Cape Verde, Gabon seemed powerless to oppose Nigeria’s determination in reaching the last four of the tournament.
Therence Mayimba, Aymar-Kabrel Boundou and Stephan Lasme were the only Gabonese to score in double digits but were unable to prevent their team from being eliminated.
They will continue their campaign in the Classification Games.
Nigeria return to the Semi-Finals for the first time since 2011.
In the first game of the day between two AfroBasket debutants, Uganda held off Zimbabwe 72-46 to finish 15th in the competition.
Friday will see the Classification Games to finalise places 9-14 and the first of two sets of games to determine places 5-8.
Saturday’s Semi-Finals (all times local; GMT +1):
Senegal v Nigeria, 18:30
Tunisia v Angola, 21:00