Nigeria entered the 2013 FIBA Africa event as the favorite, perhaps purely because of its NBA talent, but two surprising losses for Ike Diogu, Al-Farouq Aminu and company opened the door for other countries to earn bids to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
Angola and Egypt won semifinal games to make that possibility a reality, while Cameroon and Nigeria finished on high notes in the fifth- and seventh-place games, respectively.
Angola 66, Ivory Coast 59 -- Angola didn't have a big name on the roster, but it didn't need one. A 66-59 win against the Ivory Coast Friday gave them a date with Egypt in the 2013 FIBA Africa championship game and a guaranteed ticket to Spain for next summer's World Championship.
Shooting guard Carlos Morais and bruising forward Reggie Moore, a product of Oral Roberts, led Angola with 13 points each. The difference in the close game was three-point shooting as Angola hit 12-of-32 attempts while Ivory Coast shot just 2-of-19 from beyond the arc.
Forward Mamadou Lamizana led the Ivory Coast with 15 points and also pulled down seven rebounds.
Egypt 70, Senegal 63 -- An aggressive Egyptian team held off Senegal, 70-63. More importantly, the win qualified Egypt for the 2014 FIBA World Cup -- which the country has been made since 1990.
Center Assem Marei, who played for Minnesota State-Mankato, put in a monster game by hitting 9-of-10 shots en route to scoring 22 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Wael Khedr added 16 points, five boards and three assists for the Egyptians, too, who went to the free throw line 31 times to Senegal's 14 trips to the stripe.
Senegal got a balanced effort across the board, but only forward Maleye Ndoye scored in double figures with 12 points. Former 10th overall NBA draft selection Mouhamed Saer Sene, the 2006 first-round pick of Seattle, led Senegal with 11 rebounds ... but didn't score in 20 minutes.
Cameroon 74, Cape Verde 53 -- The battle for fifth place in the FIBA Africa tournament went easily for Cameroon behind forward Gaston Essengue's 19 points and seven rebounds.. Sacramento Kings forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 13 points and Jeremy Nzeulie added 15.
It was Cameroon's defense against Cape Verde that was most impressive, however. Loyola Maryland's Brian Rudolph Jr. led Cape Verde with 15 points and five assists, but he earned 11 of his points from the foul stripe while hitting just 2-of-14 attempts from the floor. Overall, Cape Verde shot 25 percent -- 32 percent from two-point range and 15 percent on 26 threes.
Nigeria 105, Morocco 87 -- Ike Diogu scored 31 points and 10 rebounds as Nigeria earned a 105-87 victory against Morocco on Friday, but that likely won't send the most talented team in Africa out of their FIBA tournament all too pleased.
The Nigerians showed up to the FIBA Africa Championship tourney with the most household names in the states, but it didn't go as planned. They fell out of the bracket to contend for a spot in the 2014 FIBA Championships after two losses, but cemented a seventh-place finish with the win. New Orleans Pelicans forward Al-Farouq Aminu added eight points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Virginia Military Institute product Stan Okoye scored 20 points.
Morocco's Youness Idrissi poured in 37 points on 13-of-24 shooting, but his team didn't have the firepower to keep up with the Nigeria squad that also included NBA-experience players Ben Uzoh (11 points, nine assists) and Gani Lawal (10 points, five rebounds).