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Crumbled Dreams: Ivorians Collapse in 4th as Mexico Seals 92-81 FOQT Elimination

Game Report: In a must-win clash at the 2024 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Mexico edged out Côte d'Ivoire with a 92-81 victory, eliminating the Ivorians from the competition. The game was a nail-biter, with Côte d'Ivoire leading at the end of the first three quarters and holding a 9-point advantage at one point.

Published on

July 6, 2024

Last Updated on

July 6, 2024

Emmanuel Shine

Emmanuel Shine

Staff Writer

Crumbled Dreams: Côte d'Ivoire Collapses in 4th as Mexico Seals 92-81 FOQT Elimination

Crumbled Dreams: Côte d'Ivoire Collapses in 4th as Mexico Seals 92-81 FOQT Elimination

This was a must-win game for both teams to keep their Olympic dreams alive as they both lost toLithuania in their previous match. Mexico held off Côte d’Ivoire and claimed a 92-81 victory. Despite the double-digit win, the score does not accurately reflect how tightly contested this game was. 

Côte d’Ivoire led at the end of every quarter and had a 9-point lead, the highest before the dagger at the end of the game gave Mexico an 11-point lead. There were a few lead changes in the game, but Côte d’Ivoire led for most of the game and seemed to be in control. The Ivorians fought hard on the glass and made sure that they got as many second-chance opportunities as possible.

The game was tightly contested, with Côte d’Ivoire running away with an 8-point lead early in the first quarter. Mexico would then resort to the pick-and-roll since the Ivorians sat deep on defence. That would give Joshua Ibarra enough space to work on the painting. He [Ibarra] and veteran point guard Paul Stoll effectively used the pick-and-roll to cut this deficit before Karim Rodriguez hit a shot on the buzzer to close off the first quarter with the score at 25-22 to the Ivorians.

Solo Diabaté of Côte d’Ivoire changed the game's complexion by pushing the game's tempo and utilising his playmaking abilities to create more looks for his teammates. However, Mexico took the lead in the second quarter for the first time since they scored the every first basket of the game. This is also the quarter where a lot of the highlights were made. From the deep three that Karim Lopez hit to the block byLionel Kouadio, he followed up with a crossover, which saw Lopez hit the floor to back-to-back three-point shots by Assemian Moularé and everything in between.

The turning point in this game came in the third quarter when the Côte d’Ivoire got into foul trouble with about 6 minutes left. Mexico used that to attack more, making a few trips to the free-throw line. This led to frustrations within the Ivorian team, evident by the stretches of selfish play, unforced turnovers, and rushed shots. They also missed a lot of open lay-ups or just fumbled the ball when they would have a three-on-one fast break opportunity. Despite this sour stretch, they kept the lead heading into the fourth quarter. They led 69-68, but the momentum was with Mexico.

The frustrations built up by the Ivorians and the momentum gained by the Mexicans propelled Mexico to make some big-time plays. Vefessa Fofana had some great plays, starting with some defensive stops that led to his fast break where he slammed the ball and then a three-pointer that he would drain, but that would not be enough as the woes of the third quarter would follow the Ivorians. Lionel Kouadio missed two open lay-ups in back-to-back possessions. However, the star of the night was Paul Stoll, who would lead all scorers with 23 points and 11 assists to go with it. He made some big threes when he was not assisting his teammates. He showed poise and composure down the stretch, helping his team secure the victory and a semifinal match on Saturday, where they will be looking to advance to the finals.

Solo Diabaté, in his post-game interview, stated:

“Back-to-back games are all difficult to play”, and then added that they" played a good game against Lithuania last night. “We couldn’t finish the game… couldn't make many mistakes and give them [Mexico] credit. They did well also,” added the Ivorian point guard as he contemplated retirement after an illustrious career.

This is the end of the road for Côte d’Ivoire on the Olympic dream for 2024, but they have made strides in the right direction as a federation and will be looking to bounce back in the coming tournaments.

Watch the Côte d’Ivoire vs Mexico Game Highlights Below

[Photography / Imagery Courtesy of FIBA]


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