TRIPOLI (Afrobasket 2009) - Cote d'Ivoire reserved a place at a FIBA World Championship for the first time since 1986 after a 68-61 triumph over Cameroon in Friday's second Afrobasket Semi-Final in Libya.
Trailing 61-60 with 2:12 remaining after a basket in the lane from Cameroon's Cyrille Désiré Makanda, Cote d'Ivoire scored the final eight points of the game to secure victory.
Cote d'Ivoire will now meet Angola in Saturday's gold-medal game, while Cameroon will go up against Tunisia in the bronze-medal clash in a battle for the last spot on offer for the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
The appearance in the Afrobasket final is a great achievement for Cote d'Ivoire, a team not even expected to reach the last four in Africa.
They will now play at a FIBA World Championship for a third time, the first having been in 1982.
The current FIBA Africa Secretary General, Alphonse Bilé, was captain of the 1982 team and coach of the side in 1986.
Friday's game was full of a drama, especially in the fourth quarter.
Cote d'Ivoire appeared to take command with a 9-0 run at the start of the period that left them on top, 55-49.
Cameroon dug deep, though, and battled back.
After a Ruben Boumtje Boumtje basket closed the gap to 60-59, Makanda hit his go-ahead shot in the paint.
It was the last time Cameroon led.
Didier Tape's free-throw knotted the game at 61-61 with 1:58 to go, and Mouloukou Diabate scored in the lane to make in 63-61 for Cote d'Ivoire.
Diabate then came up with a big defensive play, intercepting a pass made by Yves Lionel Mekongo Mbala.
Not long after and Diabate earned a trip to the charity stripe and made one of two for a three-point lead with 54 seconds to play.
Cameroon could have knotted the contest with a three-pointer, butr Ismael N'Diaye came up with a big steal, taking the ball away from Mekongo with 36 seconds to go. After allowing most of the time to run off the shot-clock, Cote d'Ivoire fed N'Diaye who scored in the paint for a 66-61 lead just 13 seconds from the end.
Mohamed Déba Kone added a pair of free-throws for the seven-point triumph.
Tape had 15 points to top the scoring for Cote d'Ivoire while Makanda had 13 in defeat for Cameroon.