LUANDA (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019) - Having missed out the last two editions of the Olympic Games, Angola must qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China. At least that is Armando Costa's opinion.
A two-time FIBA Basketball World Cup participant, Costa looks at the China 2019 showpiece as a way of keeping Angola among the best teams in the world, and, more importantly, he insists, it's a way of giving the country's new generation of players a tremendous learning experience.
The former African champions will try to qualify for FIBA's most important competition for the fifth straight time when they take on Morocco, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Group C of the qualifiers, which starts in November.
"Egypt and Morocco are tough teams we have faced recently, but we must qualify for the World Cup," said Costa, who averaged 5.2 points and a team-high 4 assists in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
"Alongside the Olympics, the [FIBA] Basketball World Cup is a dream of any athlete, and we must not prevent our younger players from dreaming. By 2019, I will be 36, and although I am always available to represent my country, this new generation of players must be given a chance. We haven't played in the Olympics since 2008, so the World Cup remains a great platform to show our basketball," Costa explained.
Under FIBA's new competition system, the number of participating teams in the FIBA Basketball World Cup will increase from 24 to 32, with Africa being allocated five places instead of three as it had been up until 2014.
"African teams are no longer the pushovers in the World Cup," "Angola, Senegal, Nigeria and Tunisia have proven that the game on the continent has improved, and African teams can compete against the best," the 33-year-old guard said.
Costa, who won four African titles dating back to 2005, feels there is only one goal for Angola.
"Whether the FIBA AfroBasket will be played in Angola or somewhere else, we will play to win it. We lost to Nigeria two years ago, but our morale as a team has been restored and we are ready to go," he noted.