January 7, 2017

Nigeria must beware of Angola — Gomes

Nigeria must beware of  Angola —  Gomes

Gomes and Oguchi

Angola’s  basketball legendand two-time Afrobasket Most Valuable Player, MVP, Joachim Gomes has hailed Nigeria’s senior men’s basketball team, the D’Tigers for their 2015 Afrobasket exploits, affirming that they are the current best team in Africa.

Speaking in a interview recently, Gomes, 38 who helped Angola win four FIBA Afrobasket titles, said he was not surprised that Nigeria finally won the Afrobasket in 2015 in Tunisia at the expense of his country.

Gomes and Oguchi

“Since I started playing basketball and joined the national team, Nigeria have always been a challenge for Angola,” he recalled. “They will always play their best against us. I am happy for them because they have been working so hard over the past years. I know some of their players for a long time, and I am happy that their hard work is paying off.”

He however, would not agree that Nigeria has overtaken Angola as the number one basketball playing country in the continent, stressing that though Nigeria are currently number one, according to FIBA Ranking, Angola remain number one in Africa.

“We are still the number one. Nigeria are the [current African] champions, they are the best team right now but I don’t think they are the number one team in Africa. They still have to win some more African championships. We still made it to the [FIBA AfroBasket 2015] Final. We have been playing the Finals of the last 10 championships. We have to respect that as I respect Nigeria a lot. Nigeria will be the first target in the next [African] championship.”

With some of Angolan key players approaching the end of their careers, a lot has been said about Angola’s new generation of players, especially now that Angola will enter this year’s FIBA AfroBasket looking to regain the continent’s crown.

And, while  the Southern Africans won a first FIBA Africa U18 tournament in more than two decades last summer, Gomes feels a lot more needs to be done.

“Angolan basketball has been through a difficult time over the past six years or so. That’s because the level of improvement is not the same,” he explained. “We have a lot of young players coming up, but they still have to understand the level of playing at such level. They are good players, though.

“When it comes to the African championship, it’s not all about playing games, it’s not all playing showing talent, it’s all about how to win games, how to play as a team and how to respect the opponent. They will grow as players. At this stage, we have to be together because basketball is a big sport in Angola.”