Algeria in World Championship for First Time
The Algerian National Team will represent its country for the first time ever in the 2002 World Basketball Championship after reaching the final game of the 21st African Championship for men. Algeria lost the title tilt to Angola 78-68 but finished 5-2 in Group II, earning a spot in the largest basketball event in the world. The final game appearance was also a first as Algeria will join Lebanon as the only first time qualifiers.
Algeria was placed in Pool C and will open World Championship play on Aug. 29 against the heavily favored team from the host United States in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Then comes a matchup with China on Aug. 30 in Conseco Fieldhouse, followed by Germany on Aug. 31, also in Conseco Fieldhouse.
Algeria advanced to the championship game of the African qualifying tournament after squeaking by Tunisia 77-76 in semifinal round action. Ali Bouziane, the second youngest player on the Algerian roster led the team in scoring. The 25-year old guard averaged 16.1 points per game in the African tournament that consisted of seven games.
Forward Mourad Boughedir is Algeria’s top rebounder at six boards a game. Boughedir is also the only other double-digit scorer at 10.4. Algeria averaged 72.7 points in the tournament and also struggled from the free-throw line with 59 percent accuracy.
The Algerians' key appears to be balance, as they have six players on the roster averaging between six and ten points. Samir Mehennaoui is the most veteran player on the team at age 38.
Algeria had handed Angola its only defeat in the preliminary round 78-70 but the upstart Algerians couldn’t repeat the that performance in the finals. Algeria worked its way back into the finals despite a 59-58 loss to Nigeria.
Bouziane, the 6-4 point guard, has been a member of the French Junior National Team and has played with Gravelines-Dunkerque in France the past two seasons. Boughedir, a 6-6 power forward from Mulhouse France, has played for Association Sportive Golbey-Epinal since the 1997-98 season.
Algeria won four of the five games in its group until the final game loss to Angola. They defeated South Africa 76-46, Angola 78-70, Central Africa Republic 79-66, and Senegal 71-56, along with the one point loss to Nigeria.