Algeria won the first semi-final of the 2020 IWBF Afro Paralympic Qualifiers in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a comprehensive victory, 79-44, over their North-African rivals, Egypt.

Algeria started well forcing Egypt to take outside shots and giving no easy looks at the basket. The combination of Nabil Guedoun and Bilal Ayache at the offensive end pushed Algeria out to a 14-0 lead, and it wasn’t until the sixth minute that Egypt scored their first points, which turned out to be their only basket in open play of the quarter, as Algeria won it 26-4.

A closer second quarter ensued as Algeria’s Head Coach, Mustapha Brahimi, rotated in his bench, and Egypt kept it all square, 15-15.

Algeria turned on the intensity again in the third putting the press back on, which the Egyptians struggled to break, forcing them into turnovers, enabling Algeria to extend their lead by a further ten points going into the final quarter.

With the result already a formality, the fourth ended 18-15 to Algeria, as they booked their place in the final.

Algeria’s Bilel Ayache was named Sasol Player of the Match after finishing top of all scorers with 19 points in 25 minutes played. Magdy Abbas top scored for Egypt with 11 points.

The win ensured Algeria’s place in the final of the 2020 Afro Paralympic Qualifiers with a chance to not only be crowned champion of Africa, but to also get a ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Zouhair Challat of Morocco during the 2020 IWBF Afro Paralympic Qualifiers Semi Final match between Morocco and South Africa on the 6 March 2020 at Mandeville Sports Centre, Johannesburg Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

In the second semi-final of the day, hosts South Africa took on reigning African Champions Morocco.

In a close opening quarter, both defences were well drilled and limited the scoring opportunities as it remained all square, 13-13, after the first ten minutes.

The insertion of Mohammed Bargo into the Moroccan line-up in the second quarter assisted his team to push out to an eight-point lead as South Africa found it hard to convert, with their talisman Richard Nortje struggling to find his range, giving Morocco a 30-22 lead at half-time.

The pressure of what was at stake seemed to take its toll on South Africa as they made unforced errors giving Morocco the advantage. South Africa managed to keep within touching distance though at the end of the third due to Morocco’s foul trouble, to only trail by twelve points, 36-48.

In the final quarter Rida Maataoui found his rhythm and became unstoppable from the elbow as Morocco went on a 12-2 run. South Africa continued to chase the game but Morocco could sense the win and continued to grow in confidence, winning the quarter 25-12, to secure victory, 73-48. This confirmed their place in the final of the 2020 Afro Paralympic Qualifiers to defend their title against Algeria.

Morocco finished with two players hitting a double-double: Mohamed Bargo made 22 points and 11 rebounds, but it was Rida Maataoui who edged him for the Sasol Player of the Match with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Thandile Zonke led the scoring for South Africa with 15 points.

Algeria will play Morocco in the final at 17:30 on Saturday 7th March, whilst South Africa take on Egypt in the bronze medal game at 13:00.

Algeria women continued their winning ways, claiming a 48-23 victory over South Africa to make it 4-0 in the series. Algeria’s Nourhane Boublal contributed a double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds to see her awarded the Sasol Player of the Match.


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