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FIBA AfroCan: Morocco Celebrates First Continental Trophy in 58 Years

On Sunday, Morocco emerged as the new champions of the FIBA AfroCan tournament in Luanda, Angola after beating Cote d’Ivoire 78-76 in a largely evenly-matched encounter.

This feat has seen Morocco win their first continental trophy in basketball for the first time in 58 years.

Morocco’s amazing run at the last World Cup in Qatar is still fresh in the memories of many and they have followed with another commendable feat; winning the recently concluded U-23 AFCON.

While the sporting fans are still celebrating these triumphs, they have been given one more reason to celebrate Sunday’s winning feat in the FIBA AfroCan final in Luanda, Angola.

The influence of Morocco on the African sports scene is gradually spreading beyond football.

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This latest win has seen Morocco improve from their 2019 AfroCan campaign when they finished fourth in Bamako for the inaugural edition of the competition.

Playing a fast-moving game, the Moroccans built on their success from the moment they took the lead after the break.

It’s Morocco’s first continental trophy since winning the 1965 FIBA AfroBasket.

Although Cote d’Ivoire got off to the best possible start (25-22), Morocco put their ambitions to bed in the second quarter, with a severe 21-11 run to take the lead (43-36).

Another run at 14-13 allowed them to cement their lead, until Cote d’Ivoire’s late awakening (27-21), which was certainly spectacular, but completely out of time as Morocco retained a two-point lead to claim the final victory.

Morocco got their big men to play in the painted area to score 46 points while seeing their bench score a whopping 38 points compared to just 24 for the Ivorian bench.

The Moroccans were also in total control, with no fewer than 46 rebounds, including 30 on defence alone, while Cote d’Ivoire could only muster 37 rebounds (18 offensive, 19 defensive).

Mohamed Choua put on a stellar performance to help his team to victory. With 13 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks, the Moroccan earned his stripes as a general on the court.

At his side during the battle were Kevin Franceschi (14 points), Abdelhakim Zouita (11 points), Soufiane Kourdou (13 points), and Ali Lahrichi (12 points, 4 rebounds).

In addition, Lahrichi scored all 4 of his free throws to finish with a 100 per cent success rate from the charity line.

Morocco came away with a narrow but realistic victory. We’ve never seen the Moroccans rush into the heat of the moment. They preferred to temper things and bounce back when things didn’t go their way.

Route to the final

En route to the Final, Morocco finished second in Group C behind Tunisia, the only team they lost to.

Morocco then went on to defeat Cameroon, Kenya, and DR Congo before knocking out Cote d’Ivoire in the final, finishing with a 5-1 record.

Morocco pulled off the perfect coup, arriving where they weren’t necessarily expected.

They end the 2023 AfroCan on a 5-1 run and will be the ones to watch in the years to come.

Final standings

1. Morocco

2. Cote d’Ivoire

3. Rwanda

4. Congo DR

5. Tunisia

6. Kenya

7. Angola

8. Nigeria

9. Gabon

10. Mozambique

11. Cameroon

12. Mali

Source : Premium Times Nigeria