The final round of qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup kicked off in Cote d’Ivoire’s Abidjan on Friday, with the Central African Republic defeating Mali 75-57 points.
The central Africans made their intentions known early in the game at the Palais des Sports de Treichville as they edged Mali 17-12 points in the first quarter.
The second quarter was more of the same, with the CAR comfortably taking the quarter by 18-11 points.
The west Africans played better in the third quarter but were still overpowered 19-15 points by an unrelenting CAR side.
Both teams saved their best performances for the last quarter with some fantastic display of skills, but it was the central Africans who sealed victory with a 21-19 points win.
Destin Damachoua was CAR’s top performer with 18 points, three rebounds and four assists.
Souarata Cisse was Mali’s best player by some margin and was at the heart of everything good the West Africans had to offer.
He was able to finish the game with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Mali’s next game is on Saturday against fellow west Africans Senegal, while the CAR will take on Nigeria.
Nigeria’s D’Tigers, who have already qualified for the FIBA World Cup, lost to hosts Cote d’Ivoire 46-72 later on Friday.