July brought to an end the first round of qualifiers for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, where four countries bowed out of the running for one of Africa’s five tickets to the global showpiece event. 12 countries however continue unabated, and will now shift attention to the crucial fourth and fifth windows.

Cote d’Ivoire and the ever-rising South Sudan, emerged as the teams to beat heading into the second round. Most importantly for the two teams, a record of 6-0 sets them as Africa’s favorites to grab spots for the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan.

Meanwhile, Egypt trounced Senegal en route to a revamp mission in this window.

Group A

New and big names were brought in across board for the key window 3, with Nigeria’s Chimezie Metu and Cape Verde’s Samuel Tavares high up the list, and it was not long before the two stars clashed with Group A’s qualification places still open and up for grabs.

7ft’ Tavares had the first laugh, with Cape Verde securing an impressive victory over the d’Tigers. Perhaps, the argument of late preparation due to an untimely decision from the Nigerian government to withdraw their national teams from international competitions, could be made.

However, Cape Verde’s victory over Nigeria in the first window proves their domination in Game 1 of Window 3 was no fluke, but rather fully deserving. They were ahead with 15 points before a fourth quarter comeback by Nigeria saw them close the gap to a single point with less than 4 minutes left.

Nevertheless, rally from Joel Almeida saw Cape Verde restore their 10-point lead with 23 seconds on the clock. From a record of 1-2, their victory sent them level with Nigeria on 2-2 before taking top spot in Group A with victory over Uganda.

Only three countries could qualify from a group and Mali’s disqualification made things only routine for the remaining three.

Group B

While Group A was an open-for-all party, a mammoth was growing in Group B and it was an unfamiliar one even Africa’s second-ranked Tunisia were struggling to deal with. In their debut qualifier to the World Cup, South Sudan had emerged imperious from the first two windows, and were sitting pretty on top of Group B as one of only two teams with an unbeaten record.

And the third window was not one to pull plugs on their streak, as South Sudan swept aside Rwanda in their own backyard. A third-quarter save which saw Rwanda hit 23-10, helped them close the score, but it was not a contest really. The manner of submersion was inexplicable as Rwanda carried on their poor run from the earlier qualifying windows.

Nonetheless, William Robeyns powered them to a win over Cameroon, contributing 13 points.

Meanwhile, already-qualified South Sudan were in the business of driving home the point they are currently the hottest team on the continent beating highly-ranked Tunisia. Perhaps, there was motivation that exceeded a desire to simply qualify, as Nuni Omot, Mareng Gatkouth and Kuany Ngor proved catalysts for the Tunisian downfall.

They stepped up from a 14-20 first-quarter result to record a second victory over the North Africans in the qualifiers. But that did not derail the Tunisians from qualification, as they followed the South Sudanese into the second round with Cameroon closely behind.

Group C

While South Sudan were setting the standards in Group B, Cote d’Ivoire looked to do same in Group C, also boasting an unbeaten record ahead of Window 3. It was a position they were inspired to preserve despite strong resistance from a Childe Dundao-led Angolan side.

Irrespective of Angola’s efforts, they fell short by two points as the Ivorians displayed great mental fortitude to preserve their record on home court, with Asseiman Moulare key to their efforts, contributing 25 points and 3 assists.

Both of Angola’s defeats came to Cote d’Ivoire, leaving them second in Group C. There was a trashing of Guinea, who failed to win a single game as one of three teams going to the second round with a poor record (less than three wins).

Central Africa Republic’s woes were not any deeper, with just one win on their record but a lower point tally resigned them to bottom spot in Group C.

Group D

The most anticipated game of Window 3’s Day 1 was served by Group D, where Egypt and Senegal clashed in Alexandria with the Egyptians looking to overturn a Window 1 defeat.

And overturning was just what Egypt did, racing into a 13-point lead after the first quarter and never looking back. Assem Marei was key to the Egyptians taking Group D’s top spot, posting 10 points, 9 rebounds and 7 steals.

It was a mauling of Senegal with the game ending 76-43, but that was not the last of their worries as they emerged powerless against Congo DR in a repeat of their window 2 defeat.

Senegal, who had won two of three games from the first two windows, had now gone 1-2 in window 3, and were risking qualification had Kenya done a job of their own.

Kenya, the only team which failed to record a win in six attempts were out of the running for qualification and completed the list of eliminated and disqualified teams ahead of the second round.

The second round of qualifiers will resume in August with Guinea facing Cape Verde and Congo DR playing Cameroon. The games to look out for though will have Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria clash alongside Egypt facing off with Tunisia on August 26.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.