July, 15 2023.
Morocco's steady growth and carefully planned rise to the top of sports in Africa, gathered more momentum on Sunday, when their men's senior basketball team defeated pre-tournament favourites, Côte d'Ivoire 78-76 in a thrilling but closely fought final, of the second edition of the AfroCan tournament, hosted by Angola.
The Atlas Lions of Moroccan qualified for the 2023 AfroCan final, after ousting the defending champions, and winners of the very first edition of the tournament, DR Congo 76-69, on Saturday.
The AfroCAN is exclusively designed for players, plying their trades on the continent, and in their respective domestic leagues.
Beating the Elephants of Côte d'Ivoire at the Luanda Centre, implies that the Atlas Lions of Morocco are first team to beat the Leopards of DR Congo at AfroCan, since the creation of the tournament in 2019.
In about four days to come, the Atlas Lionesses of Morocco will make their debut appearance in the FIFA World Cup, having qualified for the Mundial as finalists of the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations, which they hosted.
Not long ago, they also won the CAF U-23 Afcon, to qualify for the men's football event of the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The U-17 Cub Lions were finalists of the CAF U-17 Afcon which they also hosted and to top it all, their men's senior team, the Atlas Lions became the first African side to reach semi finals of the FIFA World Cup, held in Qatar, last November.
To win the AfroCan, Morocco barely edged Rwanda 59-58, came-up short against Tunisia 52-67, before beating Cameroon, Kenya and DR Congo at a bounce, to reach the championship final, www.ckdmedia.ng reports.
With the title holders DR Congo, host nation Angola, and Tunisia, the three countries that topped their respective groups to qualify straight to the quarterfinals, all out of contention, the prospects of Côte d'Ivoire winning the title, shown brighter but eventually got dimmed by a resolute Moroccan side.
Morocco - Champions
Côte d'Ivoire - Finalists
DR. Congo 4th
Gabon 9th & Fair Play Award
AfroCAN 2023 Top 5
✓ Kevin Bruno - Morocco
✓ Jihad Benchlikha - Morocco
✓ Dieudonne Ndizeye - Rwanda
✓ Evariste Shonganya - DR Congo
✓ Mike Fofana - Côte d'Ivoire
✓ Pitchou Manga - DR Congo
✓ Dieudonne - Rwanda
✓ Evariste Shonganya - D.R. Congo
Most Valuable Player
✓ Kevin Bruno - Morocco.