08 November 2012

ALGERIA : Looking to revisit past glories

Faid Bilal (Algeria)
ALGIERS (Afrobasket) - There was a time when Algeria was synonymous with success in African basketball.
In 2001, the Algerians made it all the way to the Afrobasket Final before falling to Angola, 78-68.
After appearing at the FIBA World Championship the following year in Indianapolis, the Algerians came in seventh and fourth at the following two Afrobaskets.
Then, almost as if a magician waved a magic wand and uttered "Abracadabra", the Algerians disappeared from the international basketball landscape.
They didn't play at the Afrobaskets in Angola, Libya and most recently Madagascar.
The team will return from the international wilderness, however, at next year’s Afrobasket in Cote d'Ivoire.
Looking to revisit past glories, the Algerian Basketball Federation (FABB) recently put the reins of the team back into the hands of former coach Faid Bilal, who guided them into the title game of Afrobasket 2001 and then led them in Indiana.
Balil, in an interview with basketalgerie.com, explained: "After the fall of Algeria, following the defeat to Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations, the president of the federation decided to make a change at the helm of the national team and made an appeal to me.”
A major factor in the shake-up was that that the previous coach, American Sean Whalen, did not speak French and could not communicate with the players except with the help of a translator.
Bilal admits that nothing will come easy for the national team.
"Basketball in Algeria has been on the decline," he said.
"It's unacceptable to see other nations in Africa upward while we go back.
"There are several factors that led to the decline in Algeria, but the most important has been the lack of development. There is no more development in Algeria.
"I remember in 2001, we had great players who played in Algeria but nowadays do not find this type of player in our league. This is of course due to the level of the Algerian league being below average."
A new coach will not be the only change for Algeria.
"More than 95% of the team will be changed,” Bilal said, adding that the Afrobasket will serve as a tournament to prepare for the Mediterranean Games.
"We will start from scratch to build a new foundation."

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