KINSHASA (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers) - Following their winless campaign in the November 2017 games of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers Group C action, Democratic Republic of Congo point guard Maxi Shamba Munanga believes all is not lost for his side ahead of the return leg in June 2018.
"No one gave us a chance against the then defending champions Nigeria but we defeated them and we got to the Quarter-Finals (of AfroBasket). That was huge for us.
"For me, FIBA AfroBasket was a message to the world that, despite our conditions, we are talented and we shall try to do our best to continue improving.
"Yes, it is a route that is building slowly but we are on the right track. We now know our opponents and how they play. Come June 2018, we shall be more than ready to continue the challenge and maintain our hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.
"I will personally have to change some things because I made too many errors and as a team we learned a lot - albeit the hard way."
DR Congo pushed Egypt and Morocco to the limit, forcing both games to overtime, where they came up short. losing 65-61 and 88-81 respectively.
"If you search in every corner of the world, you will find Congolese basketball players who are doing well and can represent DR Congo despite our long absence. Come next summer, we could have a much stronger team," he said.
"We are able to face any nation in the world because this is basketball - you win some and lose some. We are a competitive team that is willing to learn along the way."
Under FIBA's New Competition System, the African Qualifiers for China 2019 will be played in two stages. The top three teams from each of the four groups (A, B, C and D) in the first round will advance to the decisive 12-team second round. This second stage will see national teams play home-and-away games with the top two teams from each group and the best 3rd-place team booking their places for FIBA's flagship event, taking place from August 31 to September 15, 2019.