Mali’s incredible comeback shocked Senegal in the U18 African Championship 2020 – FIBA U18 African Championship 2022 2022
ABIDJAN (Cote d’Ivoire) – There have been a number of epic battles in the history of the FIBA U18 Africa Championship, but the showdown between Mali and Senegal two years ago was nothing short of remarkable.
Unlike previous editions of the 12-team tournament, the FIBA U18 Africa Championship 2020 in Cairo only featured four teams – Egypt, Guinea, Mali and Senegal – mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 19 which prevented some teams from traveling to the Egyptian capital. .
Hosts Egypt, Guinea, Mali and Senegal played a total of 10 games over six days (December 3-9) in the Egyptian capital.
After registering three consecutive defeats in the group stage against Guinea, Egypt and Senegal, Mali responded to the slow start with an unthinkable comeback.
With the 0-3 record behind them, Mali stunned unbeaten Egypt in the semi-finals (79-70) before eliminating Senegal – a team they lost 80-78 in the group stage – to retain the African title thanks to the 82 -80 victory.
Two years earlier, Mali beat Senegal 78-76 to win the title in front of their fans in Bamako.
Two years ago, Mali trailed 38-36 at the break, but saved the best for last. They beat Senegal 31-18 in the third quarter to enter the final ten minutes ahead 67-56.
As Senegal raced against the clock, Mali cleverly used their advantage to secure a remarkable victory.
Bourama Coulibaly dropped a record 21 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds to propel Mali to a surprise victory over Senegal who had been marked as favorites.
Khalifa Diop, who was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 39th pick in the NBA draft last month, recorded a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds, teammate Babacar Sane – who currently plays for the NBA Academy Africa – scored 18 points but their efforts weren’t enough to help Senegal win their first ever title.
The day belonged to the Malian Bourama Coulibaly.
Coulibaly led Mali in scoring with 21 points in the final against a familiar foe in Senegal while registering five assists and five rebounds on the night.
Coulibaly’s display didn’t send Mali to the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2021 but he was eventually named the FIBA U18 Africa Championship 2020 Most Valuable Player.