BAMAKO (AfroBasket 2015) - In the lead-up to AfroBasket 2015, we take a closer look at all 16 participating teams competing in the championship running from 19-30 August.
FIBA Ranking Men: 62nd
Last participation in the AfroBasket: 2013 (1 win, 4 defeats; 15th-place)
Best result in the history of the AfroBasket: Third-place in 1972
Qualified for AfroBasket 2015 - Double win over Africa Zone 2 opponent Senegal.
History/Qualification: Over the course of the past few decades Mali became one of the tough competitors in the history of the African basketball tournament, however, in recent years they paid the price for failing to bring together their best players.
A decade ago, they accomplished a seventh-place, but have struggled to improve that mark since then.
And a couple of years ago, Mali missed out direct qualification for the AfroBasket 2013 after a disappointing campaign in Zone 2 qualifier, having finished third behind Senegal and Cape Verde, but were awarded a wild card invitation to participate in the 16-team tournament held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, where they finished a modest 15th.
Meanwhile, their best accomplishment at AfroBasket over the past four plus decades was a third-place finish accomplished in 1972.
In the attempt to live up to their reputation, new head coach Sylvain Lautie and the country’s Basketball Federation instilled new programming.
They started up their preparations earlier than they usually do in Bamako, and have played a number a number of warm-up games against Cote d’Ivoire and Algeria.
Early this year, Mali knocked out Senegal in a two-leg qualifier, securing direct qualification for this year’s AfroBasket.
Key Player: Mohamed Tangara has become an inspirational leader on and off the court for his young teammates. Playing professional basketball overseas hasn’t prevented the the 31-year-old center from returning home and joining his national team during the qualifiers against Senegal.
Two years ago, the 2.09m center averaged just over nine points and 4.8 rebounds per game for a short-handed Mali side.
Sorely Missed: Modibo Niakate has not missed a continental championship since making his senior debut for Mali in 2001, but the 34-year-old was not part of Mali’s preliminary squad.
Rising Star: Namory Boundy did a bit of everything for Mali in Abidjan two years ago, - including a game-high 21 points in a 74-59 defeat to Nigeria.
This time around the 25-year-old, who plays for Rueil Athletic Club in France's NM1 (third division), could be a valuable asset for the Western Africans.
Outlook: The selection of Ludovic Chelle should give Mali’s dynamism at the point guard position, but they will need a good start in the tournament where thy will take on Cameroon, Egypt and Gabon in Group C.
In just six words: Seeking best result in a decade