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Tunisia 2015 Afrobasket: Sato to return for Central African Republic - Jun 3, 2015


POSTED BY:
OLUSEGUN IKUESAN
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Romain Sato
Romain Sato has agreed in principle to play for the Central African Republic (CAF) at AfroBasket 2015.

The news came after Jean De Dieu Mageot, the President of the Central Africa Basketball Federation, paid a visit to the 34-year-old player in Valencia, Spain, where he plays for Valencia Basket.

Sato, arguably one of the best player to come out of the country with a population of 4.6 million people, previously played for the national team at AfroBasket 2009 held in Libya.

His return is a great boost for CAF, who will compete in Tunis and Nabeul, Tunisia (19-30 August) after receiving one of three wild cards for the event which is a qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Nearly a month after getting confirmation of their place in the 16-team competition, the two-time AfroBasket winners - 1974 in Bangui and 1987 in Tunis - began to gather all their best players in order to give their best possible performance at this summer's tournament. De Mageot visited with Sato on 29 May.

Sato's decision to join the national team did not come as a big surprise to Max Kouguere, the vice-captain of the team.

"During the Group-G qualifiers in March, I received a call from Romain who encouraged us and asked us to try all our best to book qualification because he is eager to participate in this year's AfroBasket," Kouguere said to www.newsbasket-beafrika.com.

"He really wants to be there one last time."

Those familiar with Sato's abilities know that, with such a player in their squad, CAF could make a great impact in Tunisia.

The native of Bimbo was one of the star performers at the 2009 continental championship in Libya. He averaged 21.6 points (second among all players) and 8.6 rebounds and was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Playing AfroBasket in Tunisia is a great symbol for all Central Africans as it is in there that they earned their second continental title 28 years ago.

Asked about CAF's objectives at this year's event, Sato thought it best not to be too specific.

"We are in an ambitious project of rebuilding and I think the key is to have better preparations in order to bring joy to our fans," he said.

For their 18th participation in the AfroBasket, CAF have been drawn in Group-A alongside hosts Tunisia, Uganda and Nigeria.

The winners of AfroBasket 2015 will secure automatic qualification for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The teams that finish second and third will book their places in the 12-team FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

FIBA.com Romain Sato (195-F/G-81, college: Xavier)   



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African Championships Standings
Group A
 1. Nigeria 2-1 
 2. DRCongo 2-1 
 3. Mali 2-1 
 4. Ivory Coast 0-3 
Group B
 1. Morocco 3-0 
 2. Angola 2-1 
 3. C.Africa 1-2 
 4. Uganda 0-3 
Group C
 1. Tunisia 3-0 
 2. Cameroon 2-1 
 3. Rwanda 1-2 
 4. Guinea 0-3 
Group D
 1. Senegal 3-0 
 2. Egypt 2-1 
 3. Mozambique 1-2 
 4. S.Africa 0-3 

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