It’s not over until it is over! Morocco is back on track in the journey to FIBA AfroBasket 2021 after beating Cape Verde, 72-69, on Thursday.
In a game of four quarters, Morocco used an explosive final period to pin a 3-point loss to Cape Verde to give themselves a chance of qualification for the continental championship.
However, it was Cape Verde that started the game on a strong footing leading by as many as ten points (18-8) with just under three minutes to play in the opening quarter. The Moroccans never fell behind further than that and close the quarter trailing by 7 points (16-23).
Despite struggling to shoot from the line and beyond the arc in the opening half, Morocco controlled the second quarter, playing solid defense while being productive at the offensive end to lead 36-33 at the long break.
Kenneti Mendes and Jeffrey Nunes Xavier sparked Cape Verde at the start of the third that the Islanders controlled to take a 10-point (54-44) lead into the fourth quarter.
Point guard Abdelali Lahrichi opened the fourth quarter scoring from downtown sparking a 7-0 run for Morocco.
Xavier put Cape Verde on the board with a jumper that was followed by a foul throw but Morocco rallied and took the lead with just over four minutes to play.
It was a seesaw until Soufiane Benhmine hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:43 to play to give Morocco a 4-point lead (67-63) and the North Africans hang on for the victory.
Lahrichi scored game-high 22 points to lead Morocco. Soufiane Kourdou came in handy with 17 points while Mohamed Choua and Benhmine contributed 12 points apiece.
Xavier scored team-high 21 points for Cape Verde to go with 5 assists while Ailton Manuel Lopes Marques contributed 15 points.
The two teams return to action on Saturday as Morocco battles Uganda while Cape Verde takes on Egypt.