FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers: Cote d’Ivoire must play February games like they are Finals-Hima

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Aboubacar Hima thinks Cote d’Ivoire has revealed that they have no time to waste and should go into each of their games at the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers as if they are a Final.

Cote d’Ivoire start up their Road to China 2019 later this month in Mozambique where they face Mozambique, Senegal and Central African Republic in Group D from February 23-25.

“We have to take these games like they are a Final,” Hima said. “We have to go out there and do our job and get the wins.”

Cote d’Ivoire must finish in the top three in Group D to reach the second round of Qualifiers.

“We know that it’s going be hard, but we have players with a lot of experience. For sure, we are going to compete to be one of those three teams,” the 25-year-old Hima said.

Hima, who plays his club basketball at Spanish third division LEB Silver side Electro Mercantil Plasencia, hopes that “The Elephants” have learned some lessons from the FIBA AfroBasket 2017, where Cote d’Ivoire lost all three games to finalists Nigeria, DR Congo and Mali – the defeat against Nigeria by just one point.

The Niamey native Hima averaged 8.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists last summer and is ready to be a leader in Mozambique and the rest of the Qualifiers.

“For me, it’s an honor to play for the national team and I will give my 100 percent any time the team needs me,” said Hima, who was one of six players on the Cote d’Ivoire team at AfroBasket 2017 aged 25 and younger.”

“I am working hard to be one of those guys who help the team get to the top of Africa. Each year we have a new young team and that is the team building into a very solid team,” he explained.

The Elephants have actually been African champions twice – in 1981 and 1985. The second title earned them the right to play at the World Cup 1986. Since then, though, Cote d’Ivoire have only played once at the world stage – at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2010.

“It’s hard,” Hima said after hearing that fact. “The federation and the country have to make a big effort to help the athletes to give their 100 percent.”

When asked what it would be like to reach China 2019, Hima answered: “For us being in China would be a great feeling. Then we can show to the world that Cote d’Ivoire can do great things playing basketball.”

But the first step is Cote d’Ivoire playing three “Finals” in February in Mozambique.

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