YAOUNDE (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers) – When the third window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers gets underway next month, Cameroon might have a new head coach on the bench.
The country’s Basketball Federation (FECABASKET) has intensified its search for a new play caller to replace Brazilian Carlos Antonio Barbosa before the start of the second-leg of Group A in June-July window in Tunisia.
FECABASKET officials believe a new coach will bring added impetus in the team’s campaign to achieve World Cup qualification.
Eric Niat, Vice-President of FECABASKET, believes that bringing in a new coach at this crucial stage of the Qualifiers reflects Cameroon’s resolve to qualify for the first-ever 32-team edition of FIBA’s flagship competition.
“THE FIRST WINDOW ENDED WITH A BITTER DEFEAT ON HOME COURT AND THE PLAYERS ARE IMPATIENT TO FACE TUNISIA AND PAY THEM BACK IN THEIR OWN CURRENCY” – Niat
After the “Lions” of Cameroon missed out on topping Group A last November because of a 67-66 defeat to reigning African Champions Tunisia in an epic game, Niat is upbeat the team will do what’s needed of them in the upcoming window to be among the 12 teams progressing to the Second Round.
“The first window ended with a bitter defeat on home court and the players are impatient to face Tunisia and pay them back in their own currency. The current players on the team are good and have shown that they are a force to reckon with. It will be surprising if we do not go to the Second Round,” said Niat.
Cameroon competed in last month’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia with a team consisting of home-based players.
The “Indomitable Lions” began their journey in the tournament by beating India 96-87 but a 63-52 defeat to Scotland followed by an 81-54 loss to England, saw the team exit the competition at the first hurdle.
Cameroon Basketball Federation Vice President Eric Niat
Despite these disappointing results, Niat is confident it was a good experience for the Lions.
“For the locals, this was a great opportunity for them to measure themselves to players of other countries, see how basketball is played beyond our borders as well as gauge just how much work has been done by the team,” he explained. “We saw the progress made by those local players and we can perform better in June. For us, our main objective is China 2019.”
Niat is banking on the arrival of some big names for this goal to be attained.
“We are confident some good players will be joining the team for the June-July window. We have spoken to Benoit Mbala and he has assured us he will come,” he revealed. “We all saw what he did during last year’s FIBA AfroBasket, he will be a great addition to the team.”
Benoit Mbala averaged team-highs 21.8 points and 9.3 rebounds at FIBA AfroBasket 2017
“We are talking to Jean Pierre Tokoto. He is open to the idea of playing for Cameroon and we just have to finalize certain details with his management. He is having a great time with the Perth Wildcats in Australia and we believe he can replicate his game-winning acts with the national team.”