Angola had a tougher-than-usual route through the 2011 FIBA African Championship, losing a continental match for the first time in a decade in group play and being taken to overtime in the quarterfinals. But the champion of 10 of the past 11 continental tournaments has come out ahead when it counts, and beat Nigeria 76-68 on Saturday to advance to the Afrobasket championship game.
Angola will meet Tunisia -- who beat Cote d'Ivoire earlier in the day -- in the championship game on Sunday. The winner earns a bid to the 2012 London Olympics.
The Angolans trailed by eight late in the second quarter, but stormed back to tie the game by halftime. Nigeria, led by Ejike Ugboaja (16 points) and Derrick Obasohan (13), stayed strong, taking a two-point lead into the fourth. But the final quarter was all Angola, as the reigning champs outscored the Nigerians 22-12 in the last frame to take the win.
Nigeria now must beat Cote d'Ivoire on Sunday to earn a bid to the last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament next July. The loser of the championship game will also be invited.
Nigeria's Ime Udoka, the tournament's most experienced NBA player, scored 11 points, but all of them came in the first half. He shot just 4-15 from the floor. Joaquim Gomes and Eduardo Mingas led Angola with 15 points apiece.