BAMAKO (2015 FIBA Africa U16 Championship) - Hosts Mali cruised past Rwanda, 75-40, to open the 2015 FIBA Africa U16 Championship in flying colours, while reigning champions Angola had to work hard to fend off South Africa, 54 -46.
The Malians, who finished second at the first edition of the tournament in 2009, got off to a good start against debutants Rwanda to lead 13-7 at the end of the first quarter. With the home fans cheering them on, they stretched their advantage to 32-15 by halftime.
The Malians finished the game with 17 points coming off turnovers and got a huge lift from their bench, who accounted for 35 points.
Mamadou Sissoko had game-highs of 15 points and 11 rebounds in the winning effort.
Earlier in the day, reigning champions Angola got their campaign underway with a tight win over South Africa.
Having trailed for most of the game, the Angolans tied it at 45-45 with 2:54 left to play. The 2013 champions then took control and secured the win.
Angola got a huge lift from their bench players who combined for 24 points, including some at pivotal moments.
Branco Sacarrolha led all scorers with 13 points in the winning effort.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia who are making their debut in the tournament, got a 58-52 win against Morocco.
In the day's most balanced game, the Ethiopians led 27-24 at the end of the first half. The Moroccans came out of the locker room on fire and a 20-9 third quarter saw them take a 44-36 lead. However, they were then outscored 22-8 in the final frame.
Omar Mankour and Sami Al Uariachi poured in 20 and 18 points respectively for Morocco but it wasn't enough to get the win as Ethiopia scored decisive baskets in the closing minutes of the game to take their first-ever win in the tournament.
Leul Brhane Tafere led all scorers with a game-high 22 points.
In the first game of Group A, Algeria beat Nigeria, 57-52.
The Algerians got off to a quick lead at the start of the game and held on to it, taking a 33-30 lead at half-time. Things remained unchanged in the third quarter as the teams proved evenly matched.
Algeria owed the win to the performances of Mostefa Braik, Ahmed Zakaria Houari and Mohamed Cheblaoui, who combined for 39 points.
Nigeria, who finished third at the inaugural event, lost the game despite Olajuwon Basit Ibrahim going for 16 points and 13 rebounds.
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