AngolaDespite an immense effort to prepare professionally and extensively in Europe, Angola’s U-19 national team fell short in its first game against Greece (101-58) and provided only little resistance (46-104) against Lithuania in their second game in Group A in New Zealand.

The team played in the Vilagarcia Basket Cup in Spain earlier this year and went to a lot of practice sessions prior to the World Championships but the lack of size and maybe the lack of overall talent is not going to close the gap between African junior-national teams and the rest of the world (Asia excluded) in the near future.

Although Angola possesses the best functioning structures on the continent, including facilities, a league with dominating teams in African competitions and a strong national-team program, the country still was not able to produce a decent team for a world championship in recent years on the youth level.

This year’s U-19 team has its leader in tiny point guard Emanuel Antonio, who was the top-scorer of the team in the last African Championships with 16,2 points per game. He is deadly quick and loves to slash to the basket but lacks the physique and gets sometimes lost while driving and is turnover-prone if he passes at all.

Natural forwards Miguel Kiala and Josemar de Carvalho are filling up the paint although being short-sized to play down low.
Kiala is a Charles Barkley-type of player with a knack for rebounds and blocks and who scores preferably inside the paint while de Carvalho moves sometimes out for the three.

The 2 and 3 spots on the team lack simply talent as Hermenegildo dos Santos, Eduardo Ferreira and Edson Ndoniema can’t compete with most shooting guards and small forwards at the WC due to the lack of ball-handling and shooting skills and the experience which comes from playing on a well-organized junior-level in Europe or i.e. in the U.S.

Still, we can expect to see one or two players on the senior-national team in a few years. The most talented ones will probably be included and I would bet on Kiala making it to the next level, but a lot of work needs to be done. Maybe cooperation with a European basketball federation would strengthen the important aspects of coaching and conditioning as well as scouting of possible future players and promoting the game in Angola to increase the possibility of fielding a youth team that would be capable to beat European or American teams in future FIBA competitions.

It’s a long road but a possible one as Angola’s senior men’s team successfully has shown in the past years.