FIBA Africa Championship 2013
In contrast, Senegal has been a picture of consistency in the FIBA Asia 2013 tournament, winning four games while losing just once to hosts Ivory Coast. These teams met once before in this tournament, with Senegal eking out a 72-70 win. For sure, the Egyptians are itching for payback.
The team from Northern Sahara had won the bronze medal thrice since 1999; since then, their best finish in continental play was 4th, in 2007.
The Egyptians have a lineup that combines both youth and experience. Their leading scorer, forward Assem Marei, is just 21 years old, while veteran point guard Wael Khedr, at 34, is easily the most experienced of the bunch, having played in 2007 and 2009.
Khedr also scored 19 points in the surprise victory over Tunisia. Egypt relies on a combination of stingy defense and rebounding -- they have allowed only 69.6 points per game while grabbing an average of 42 rebounds an outing.
Senegal's Front Court Defense
Senegal, on the other hand, is frontcourt-heavy, as the team boasts six players 6'8" and taller, with four of them 6'10" and above. One of their leading scorers, Malene Ndoye, who plays for Paris-Levallois in the French league, averages 11 points, while Mouhammad Faye, who is based in Greece, averages similar numbers.
Ndoye is also their leading passer, completing 3.6 dimes an outing. FOrmer Sacramento Kings backup center Hamady Ndiaye, though, has been a disappointment so far for Senegal, contributing only 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds a game.
While Senegal has the taller team on paper, Egypt is riding the momentum of a big victory over the reigning continental champions.
How Egypt will convert that momentum into something more concrete over Senegal is another story. In the meantime, Senegal needs to take advantage of the height difference; they have a bigger, if not faster lineup, and they would do well to slow down the pace of the game.
If Egypt plays its cards right, they could just be the story of the tournament, while Senegal needs to draw the best from its deep frontline. I predict a narrow Senegal win, to be decided in the last five minutes.
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