A Guide to the Cape Verde Men’s Basketball Team

13 Aug 2023


The Cape Verde men’s basketball team is the smallest nation by population to ever qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The ‘Blue Sharks’ made their debut at the 2023 edition and made plenty of new admirers among international basketball fans!

Discover everything there is to know about the Cape Verde men’s basketball team with the help of this comprehensive guide from the experts at Courtside 1891.


How Did Cape Verde Do At The FIBA World Cup 2023? 

​​Here are the key stats from Côte d'Ivoire's FIBA Basketball World Cup campaign: 

  • Final Standing: 28th
  • Results: Played 5 Won 1 Lost 4
  • Top Points Scorer: Betinho Gomes 65 PTS (13.0 PPG)
  • Top Assist Provider: Ivan Almeida 17 AST (3.6 APG)
  • Most Efficient Player: Edy Tavares 18.0 EPG

Cape Verde created some memorable scenes in their debut World Cup campaign, none more so than in their 81-75 first-ever World Cup victory over Venezuela. Will Tavares and Betinho Gomes were the Blue Shark heroes both scoring 20 plus points. Aside from their opening game defeat to fellow debutants Georgia, they competed well but came up short against more established competition in the shape of Slovenia, Finland and Japan. Still, the victory ensured that all five African nations at the World Cup 2023 left with at least one victory.

Check out the highlights from their World Cup first win. One for the history books!

Venezuela v Cape Verde - 5-min Game

Team Presentation Video

Keen to learn more about the Cape Verde men’s basketball team? Watch this Team Discovery Video, produced before the World Cup tipped off, which reveals the side’s greatest achievements, legendary players and current talent. 

Team Presentation - Cape Verde - FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 

Cape Verde Basketball World Cup Qualification

Cape Verde began the qualification process for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in Group A, alongside Nigeria, Uganda and Mali. 

They topped this group with a 3-1 record and they beat the highest-ranked pre-qualifying African side, Nigeria, twice! Ultimately, everyone in this group ended with a record that included four games rather than six. This is because Mali was disqualified from the tournament after forfeiting two games. 

In the second qualification round, Cape Verde competed in Group E, alongside Côte d'Ivoire, Angola, Nigeria, Guinea and Uganda. 

In this final phase of qualifying, the top two teams from each of the two groups qualified for the World Cup, while the best third-placed team across the two groups qualified alongside them.  

In this round, Cape Verde went 3-3. This included an impressive win against table-topping Côte d'Ivoire in their final game.

The team entered this vital clash against Côte d'Ivoire knowing that a win would secure qualification. However, they started poorly before they rallied from 13 points down with a 28-6 second quarter before ultimately claiming a 79-64 victory. With this win, they moved to 6-4 and secured third in the group to make history. They also ensured they had a better record than Senegal (5-5) who finished third in Group F. This meant they qualified for their nation’s first ever FIBA World Cup as the best third-placed team in the African Qualifiers. 

Best World Cup Qualification Plays 

Cape Verde relied on a stable core of players throughout qualifying, with Ivan Almeida, Joel Almeida, Fidel Mendonça and Kenneti Mendes featuring in 10 games each. 

Although he only featured in seven of the team’s games, Walter ‘Edy’ Tavares ultimately made the difference for Cape Verde. In 222 minutes of game time, he scored 103 points, grabbed 82 rebounds and blocked 16 shots. All this added up to team highs in +/- (+74) and efficiency (164). 

Some of his blocks and dunks were monstrous, and you can catch a couple of his best in this video of Cape Verde’s Top 10 plays from qualifying. 

Best Plays - Cape Verde - FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers 2023

Current Star Players 

Cape Verde announced their roster for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 on 4 August. In Walter ‘Edy’ Tavares, they have one of the competition’s most dangerous big men. 

A 7ft 3in “physical phenomenon” of a center who can change the game at both ends of the floor , Tavares has made a big impact in international competitions. In Cape Verde’s game against Angola at AfroBasket 2021, he scored a game-tying dunk that was so monstrous that it shattered the backboard. He was later named to the All-Tournament Team after Cape Verde finished fourth. 

Domestically, Tavares has enjoyed an outstanding career. He became the first Cape Verdean-born player to be drafted in the NBA in 2014, when he was selected by the Atlanta Hawks. However, he didn’t receive much game time for the Hawks and later the Cleveland Cavaliers before he landed in Europe. 

Since 2017, he’s represented Real Madrid, where he’s won the EuroLeague twice. He’s also now the EuroLeague’s all-time leader in blocks and has made three All-EuroLeague first team appearances. Last season, he was named Final Four MVP.

Tavares may be the team’s star, but Cape Verde’s roster contains several experienced and wily vets such as Joel Almeida (37), Ivan Almeida (34),  Fidel Mendonça (39) and João ‘Betinho’ Gomes (38). 

Legends of the Team 

Edy Tavares is the current star of Cape Verdean basketball, but it was former captain, Mário Correia, who put the Blue Sharks on the basketball map, garnering legendary status for his performances at AfroBasket 2007. 

A decade after he made his debut for the national team in 1997, he led the Cape Verdeans to a surprise bronze medal, ending the tournament with a stat line of 11.3 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game. 

Outside his performances for Basketball Cape Verde, Correia also enjoyed a successful club career. With Atlético Sport Aviação (ASA) in Angola, he claimed a gold and a silver medal in the FIBA Africa Basketball League. 

Historical World Cup Performance

Cape Verde will make history at FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 when they become the smallest country by population to ever compete at the World Cup (taking this record from Montenegro). 

Expectations are helpfully low surrounding the Cape Verde basketball team, who are currently ranked 64th in the world. But, Slovenia, Georgia and Venezuela, who they’ll face in Group F, will need to bring their A game. If not, as they showed in qualifying, Cape Verde may cause an upset. 

Previous Successes and Tournament Wins

Since joining FIBA in 1988, the Cape Verde basketball team have been highly competitive at FIBA AfroBasket. Since 1997, they’ve appeared at seven editions of the tournament and have claimed bronze once, in 2007. In the most recent AfroBasket tournament in 2021, they finished fourth. 

Outside of this, they’ve also claimed one silver medal and one bronze medal at the Lusofonia Games. 

How to Watch Cape Verde Men's Basketball

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As FIBA’s premium streaming partner for the World Cup, Courtside 1891 provided access to every 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup game! Watch the competition's biggest games and best moments on-demand on our FIBA Basketball World Cup page. 

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