KINSHASA (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) – In the lead-up to the FIBA AfroBasket 2017, we take a closer look at all 16 participating teams competing in the championship running from September 8-16 in the co-host countries of Senegal and Tunisia.
Nike FIBA World Ranking: unranked
Last participation at FIBA AfroBasket: 2007 (15th place, 2 wins, 4 losses)
Best results in the history of FIBA AfroBasket: 4th place in Egypt 1975
Qualified for FIBA AfroBasket 2017: The Democratic Republic of Congo sealed their ticket in the tournament thanks to a successful FIBA Africa Zone 4 Group E campaign against the Republic Central Africa (CAF). In the process, they ended a 10-year absence from FIBA Africa's most important basketball competition.
History/Qualification: The Congolese, who last appeared at FIBA AfroBasket in 2007, closed the two-game series with a 161-144 triumph on aggregate over the Central Africa Republic.
Although they are currently unranked in the Nike FIBA World Ranking the FIBA as a result of their 10-year absence from the African championship, this is a country often described as having some of the most talented players on the continent but who have continually failed to join the best basketball nations on the continent.
They have made a total of five FIBA AfroBasket appearances including 1974, 1975, 1980, 1995 and 2007.
Although the Congolese have competed at FIBA AfroBasket, they are yet to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Their biggest success to date was a Fourth-Place finish achieved at the 1975 FIBA Africa Championship.
The country boasts of one of the greatest NBA legends in Dikembe Mutombo, who has played 18 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Outside of basketball, Mutombo has become known for his humanitarian work.
Outlook: Appearing at FIBA AfroBasket for the first time in a decade, this event emerges as an opportunity for the Congolese to rebuild the country's basketball status in Africa.
They would definitely be prepared to make an impact in Tunisia, where they will play the Group Phase against defending champions Nigeria, Mali, and Cote d’ Ivoire.
The coaching team - led by Charly Buzangu and Joachim Vale Mosengo - kept most of the team that strived during the FIBA Africa Zone 4 qualifiers.
Key players: Myck Kabongo, a former University of Texas at Austin ace could play a pivotal role for his FIBA AfroBasket debut.
Rising Star: During the Congolese's training camp in Tunisia, both Kabongo and Jericho Aluma have reminded everyone why they are some of the players to watch out for in the upcoming tournament. The former's ball handling and leadership could be key for the Congolese.
Possible outcome: It's hard to predict how far the Congolese could go at FIBA AfroBasket 2017, however, they are likely to make a splash in the Group Phase.
One thing is for certain Group A contenders Nigeria, Mali and Cote d'Ivoire - three regulars in the competition - can't overlook this Congolese team.