Morocco 78-76 Cote d’Ivoire
Morocco won the FIBA AfroCAN 2023 championship after beating Côte d’Ivoire 78-76 in an evenly-matched final encounter in Luanda on Sunday.
The win sees Morocco improve from their 2019 AfroCAN campaign when they finished fourth in Bamako, Mali, for the inaugural edition of the competition.
It’s Morocco’s first continental trophy since winning the 1965 FIBA AfroBasket.
Playing a fast-moving game, the Moroccans built on their success from the moment they took the lead after the break.
Although Côte d’Ivoire got off to the best possible start (25-22), Morocco put their ambitions to bed in the second quarter, with a severe 21-11 run to take the lead (43-36).
Another run at 14-13 allowed them to cement their lead, until Côte d’Ivoire’s late awakening (27-21), which was certainly spectacular, but completely out of time as Morocco retained a two-point lead to claim the final victory.
Morocco got their big men to play in the painted area to score 46 points, while seeing their bench score a whopping 38 points compared to just 24 for the Ivorian bench.
The Moroccans were also in total control, with no fewer than 46 rebounds, including 30 on defense alone, while Côte d’Ivoire could only muster 37 rebounds (18 offensive, 19 defensive).
Mohamed Choua put on a stellar performance to help his team to victory. With 13 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks, the Moroccan earned his stripes as a general on the court.
At his side during the battle were Kevin Franceschi (14 points), Abdelhakim Zouita (11 points), Soufiane Kourdou (13 points) and Ali Lahrichi (12 points, 4 rebounds).
In addition, Lahrichi scored all 4 of his free throws to finish with a 100 percent success rate from the charity line.
Morocco came away with a narrow but realistic victory. Never had Moroccans rushed into the heat of the moment before. They preferred to temper things and bounce back when things didn’t go their way.
En route to claiming the championship, Morocco finished second in Group C behind Tunisia, the only team they lost to.
The team then went on to defeat Rwanda, Cameroon, Kenya and the DR Congo before knocking out Cote d’Ivoire in the final, finishing with a 5-1 record.
Morocco pulled off the perfect coup, arriving where they weren’t necessarily expected.
They end the 2023 AfroCAN on an incredible 5-1 run and they will definitely be ones to watch in the years to come.