Rwanda have one foot in the quarterfinal of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 after defeating Angola 71-68 on Thursday.
The hosts overcame a six-point fourth-quarter deficit to pin a three-point loss to the continent’s most successful side.
Like their tournament opener, Rwanda got off to a strong start but Angola, desperate for victory following defeat to Cape Verde, were quick to suck in the pressure with the opening period ending all square at 20.
Angola tried to get a grip of the game early in the second quarter with vet Eduardo Mingas hitting back-to-back 3-pointers but Rwanda never fell far behind closing the quarter trailing by just 3 points.
Rwanda wiped out the deficit early on but Angola assumed a double-digit lead (57-46) with just over 3 minutes to play but an 11-3 run from Rwanda to close the quarter put them just six points (61-55) behind.
In the fourth quarter, big man Prince Ibeh came to life on the offensive end to drag Rwanda back into the game and Jean Nshobozwa put the hosts ahead 64-63 with just over six minutes to play and the Arena erupted.
Kenneth Gasana followed it up with another trey and Rwanda led 67-63 with 5 minutes to play. At the other end, Hermenegildo Santos pulled up from the top of the mountain to bring Angola to within a point (66-67) with 3:30 to play.
William Robeyns missed one of two throws with just over a minute to play and young center Jilson Bango tied the game a 68 with a lay-up and missed the go-ahead foul shot with under a minute to play.
Robeyns split a double team at the top and kicked out to the corner to Alex Mpoyo and the forward knocked down the 3-ball that won the game.
Gasana led all scorers with 18 points, Mpoyo contributed 10 points while Dieudonne Ndizeye added 9 points with Robeyns handing out 9 assists.
Bango (14 points, 16 rebounds), Santos (13 points), and Mingas (11 points) scored in double figures for Angola who now, with two defeats, have an uphill task to make the playoffs for the quarterfinals.