What you need to know:
- Despite having the game’s top scorer Tylor Ongwae, who posted a total of 25 points, Morans' imploded in the final two quarters.
- The Danish Bakken Bears small forward impressed the sparsely crowded arena with his long and short-range shots in an attempt to bring down the two time continental champions.
in Kigali, Rwanda
Kenya Morans' return to the Fiba Afrobasket Championship got off to the wrong start as they went down 88-70 to Ivory Coast in their Group C opener at the Kigali Arena Wednesday night.
Morans were impressive in the first quarters, but turnovers, fouls and sloppy shooting crept in the last two quarters, allowing the West Africans to cruise to victory.
Despite having the game’s top scorer Tylor Ongwae, who posted a total of 25 points, Morans' imploded in the final two quarters.
The Danish Bakken Bears small forward impressed the sparsely crowded arena with his long and short-range shots in an attempt to bring down the two time continental champions.
Ivory Coast outscored Morans 26-24 in the first quarter, but Morans would take the lead in the second quarter 21-15 as the sides tied 39-39 at halftime. Two-champions Ivory Coast showed their experience in the last two quarters to outpoint Morans 21-15 and 28-16.
Spain based Matt Costello, who plays for Herbalife Gran Canaria, showed his authority as he exploited Morans' pain in the last quarter with eight rebounds, three assists and four steals for a finally tally of 20 points.
Others who made double digit scores were team captain Stephane Konate (12), Vafessa Fofana (13) and Guy Edi (11).
Ongwae said Morans had a better game than Ivory Coast, but the many turnovers cost them at the end.
“Ivory Coast came in and put a lot of pressure on us and we could not handle it,” said Ongwae.
Morans' head coach Liz Mills acknowledged that her side played an impressive game in the first 35 minutes, saying that the focus now is on the match against Nigeria and Mali.
“It is all about us tightening our offense and being able to handle the pressure. I actually do not think Cote D'Ivoire beat us, but we beat ourselves,” said Mills.
Earlier, Nigeria began their campaign on a bright note when they beat Mali 81-73 in the other Group match. Kenya face Nigeria in their second match on Friday.