Jose Neto

Tigers shock Petro and give themselves a lifeline

SATURDAY’S sold-out match at Sun Bet Arena saw the Cape Town Tigers secure their first Kalahari Conference win after defeating Petro de Luanda 84-78.

The Tigers started the Basketball Africa League encounter with a high level of aggression – which was unusual for them. They were able to match the intensity of Petro in the paint and reduce their turnovers. The Tigers played as a team, shared the ball, and the result saw them lead every quarter for the first time in the tournament.

Cartier Diarra led all scorers in the first half, scoring 12 points and dishing out five assists. Storm Gilchrist shook off his rookie title and made major contributions at both ends of the floor before he sustained an injury.

During the post-match presser, Tigers coach Florsheim Ngwenya noted Gilchrist’s injury as an ankle sprain. In the end, Billy Preston’s 11-point second-half performance sealed the deal for the Tigers.

Ngwenya credited his team’s level of concentration until the final buzzer sounded. “This shows that with the proper preparation, we give ourselves a chance to hang with the best of them,” said the Tigers coach.

Storm Gilchrist injury
Storm Gilchrist clutches his left ankle after injury during the match against Petro. Pictures: The BTO

Dylan Whitbred, who had a 12-point performance off the bench, acknowledged the fans for cheering the team on against the memorable victory against Petro.

“Having the fans here is an incredible experience. I try to tell the guys and remind everyone who comes to watch me play that it is an absolute pleasure to have them in the arena. I do not take that for granted,” said Whitbred. “So we come out with a lot of heart and played for the fans… Because it’s all about them. I am glad we were able to pull out this win.”

Petro de Luanda has had a difficult season, and the outcome of their final conference game reflects this. José Neto, the coach, expressed dissatisfaction with the team’s performance, stating they did not play to their usual standard.

“The team isn’t here. The players are but Petro isn’t here,” says Neto. “Throughout the tournament, different players have stood out but we didn’t play together as a team and that is a surprise to me too.”

Last night’s game was no different. Neto, who took responsibility for the two losses, pointed out that despite the game’s statistics, he believed the Tigers wanted it more.

“The game is not about numbers, it is about who is hungrier and Cape Town [Tigers] were hungrier than us,” said Neto. “The Tigers played well enough to win. The numbers are not that different to me but they had more spirit.”

Petro had many moments where they looked like a shell of themselves and struggled from the three – which has historically been a strong suit of theirs. They were also out-rebounded (50/45).

“We didn’t respect the Tigers enough to show up and do what needed to be done and the results show that,” said Neto.

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Is the window closing on Morais’ BAL title shot?

PETRO de Luanda is a highly decorated club that has participated in every instalment of the Basketball Africa League (BAL). Despite their extensive experience in the league, they have yet to win the BAL trophy. Ahead of the BAL, The Big Tip Off previews Petro.

Team: Petro de Luanda

Country: Angola

History: The 40-year-old club has a history of success on home soil and continentally. Petro has won many titles over the years, including 16 Angolan Basketball League championships, two Luanda Provincial Champions titles, 14 Angolan Cup titles, 10 Wlademiro Romero Super Cup titles, one Victorino Cunha Cup title and two FIBA Africa Club Champions Cup titles.

In the first season, they finished in third place and made it to the final the following year, where they fell short against Tunisia’s US Monastir. 

Jose Neto coach of Petro de Luanda
Can Jose Neto lead Petro to the promised land in Season 4 of the BAL? Pictures: FIBA and the BTO

Despite their lack of a BAL title, Petro has always managed to finish among the top four in the BAL.

Route To BAL: Angola is one of six countries whose club’s automatic qualification into the BAL. Petro went 23-1 throughout the season and defeated Primero de Agosto in the Angolan Basketball League finals to clinch their 16th national title.

Coach: Brazilian coach José Neto will again lead Petro in their title quest. Neto has extensive coaching experience at the club and national team level for Brazil. He is also the head coach of Brazil’s national women’s team, and his coaching career is highly decorated.

Previously, he coached at Flamengo basketball club and achieved great success. He won a FIBA Intercontinental Cup Championship, a FIBA Americas League Championship, and four consecutive Brazilian National League (NBB) titles. 

During his time with Petro, he has won three Angolan League Champion titles, two Angolan Cup trophies, and two Angolan Super Cup titles. Neto is also a three-time Angolan League Coach of the Year and he won Coach of the Year in Season 2 of the BAL.

Star Player: Carlos Morais, a veteran and legendary basketball player from Angola, is a star player on the Petro team. Last season, when Petro appeared to be struggling in the final stages of games, Morais was the go-to guy. He made key plays that helped to swing the momentum in Petro’s favour.

At 38, he had his best performance in Season 3 of the BAL… Recording improvements in every statistical category, averaging 15.6 points, 4.4 rebounds per game, and 3.3 assists per game.

In Season 2 of the BAL, Morais earned All-First Team honours.

Is the window closing on Morais’ BAL title shot? Read More »

Neto and Petro have a thirst for continental success

Angolan giants ready to start from scratch

PETRO de Luanda have a burgeoning thirst brewing inside of them. It’s a thirst that can be quenched by winning a trophy at the continental level.

The Angolan super club last saw an African title decorate their trophy cabinet eight years ago (2015). So after a couple of near misses, could this be the year their continental trophy drought ends?

In the last two editions of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), the two-time FIBA African Club Champions Cup winners have fallen short at the knockout phases of the competition. Instead of living by the creed of third time being a charm, the Angolan club’s coach Josè Neto feels his team needs to start from scratch.

“Yes, we made it to the semi-final in the first edition and the final in the last edition. But we are not entitled to anything in the third edition. We have to start from the bottom. Then we have to try and climb our way to the top,” said the Brazilian coach on Thursday.

Solo Diabate
Two-time BAL winner Solo Diabate is a key part of Petro’s BAL mission. Picture: FIBA

Petro are in the middle of their domestic league, and the consistent run of games serves as good preparation for the BAL, which tips off in Dakar, Senegal (11-21 March). Under Neto’s guidance, the 15-time Angolan league champions have gone on a 59-game unbeaten run domestically, which ended after a 97-95 loss to Inter Clube.

Neto attributes their brilliant run of form to the system in place at the club.

“We are in our third season and had our first loss after 60 games last month. So, one loss after 60 games is a testament to the quality of the work we have been doing. It’s not just the defeat and the wins. It is also how we have been playing. It shows that it works for us,” said the two-time Angolan league-winning coach. “So our style of play gives us hope that we are on the right track and can continue winning games.

“Also, consistency is important, in my opinion. So once we have established that and every player understands how we want to play, it’s a big push forward.”

As Petro prepares to capture a maiden BAL title, they bolstered their squad with a couple of signings. Landing the services of Cote d’Ivoire super star point guard Solo Diabate and American-born small forward Damian Hollis could significantly improve the chances of the Angolan club.

Diabate, especially, comes with a championship pedigree. The 35-year-old won his first two BAL titles with Zamalek (Egypt) and US Monastir (Tunisia). Neto intimated that Diabate’s joining is crucial to the team, especially as he has developed a knack for winning.

“He knows what it feels like to win. Diabate has played at this level before, so we are thrilled to have him as part of our group and look forward to whatever positive contributions he might bring to the team,” said the 2022 BAL coach of the year. “

Petro Team
Petro’s Gerson Goncalves, Carlos Morais and Jone Pedro, right, have formed a part of the team’s core. Picture: The BTO

The Ivorian has joined experienced heads like the legendary Carlos Morais, Jone Pedro, Childe Dundao and Gerson Goncalves, who form the core of the Petro squad. The Angolan internationals played in the first two BAL competitions, and Neto says the quartet add value to the team.

“Not only have they adjusted to our way of playing, but also they have helped to pass knowledge to other players. They are like my echo to new players on how I would want the team to play,” said Neto, who won the 2014 FIBA Intercontinental title. “Only two teams have played all editions of the BAL. That is Petro and Monastir. In our club, four players have been part of this process. You would think them still being here would weaken us, but instead, they have been key in helping other players buy into our system.”

Petro, who are in the Nile Conference, which takes place in Egypt (26 April – 6 May), will face off against host club Al Ahly, Cape Town Tigers (South Africa), Ferroviario da Beira (Mozambique), City Oilers (Uganda) and Guinea’s Seydou Legacy Athletique Club (SLAC).

 

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Neto acknowledged that his team is in a tricky group as their opponents, the Tigers, SLAC, and Ferroviario, have gone through the journey of the Road To BAL qualifiers. So it is not by chance that the three teams are in the mix. He also expects Egyptian champions and league debutants Al Ahly to give a good showing on home soil.

“It’s not an easy group by any stretch of the imagination. We are in a tough group. Out of the five teams, three made it through the qualifiers. So they know what the BAL is about. Al Ahly are at home and will try to make the most of their advantage,” said Neto, a FIBA Americas League winner in 2014. “We must approach each game like a final and not think about getting to that stage. Every game we play, we should treat it as a step toward a higher goal.

“We should not get ahead of ourselves and think about the final. If we do, we may never get there this season.”

The BAL may be a few weeks away, but Neto his team has the right ingredients: a winning attitude and a hunger to win more.

“One of the strengths in this team is the desire to win. The players are thirsty for victory. They have developed and enjoy a culture of winning. So, naturally there is a thirst for more,” concluded the successful Neto.

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