Angola looking to regain FIBA AfroBasket title, says Cipriano
Olimpio Cipriano has been unique for the Angolan national team for a number of good reasons.
In his four FIBA AfroBasket appearances - dating back to 2005 - the 34-year-old shooting guard has won as many continental titles.
"I still feel the same passion [to play for Angola]." - Cipriano
When he was controversially left out of the Angolan final roster for FIBA AfroBasket 2011, the 11-time African champions finished second.
Two years ago in Tunisia, as he attempted to win back-to-back African titles, a left-hand injury forced him out, and, incidentally, Angola lost to Nigeria in the FIBA AfroBasket 2015 Final.
With this year's FIBA AfroBasket taking place in Brazzaville in August, Cipriano says as long as the Angolans want his services he will be ready.
"If they call me to play for my national team, I will go and give my best," he told FIBA.com. "I still feel the same passion [to play for Angola]."
One of Cipriano's most remarkable performances wearing the Angolan jersey was a match-up against Dirk Nowitzki's Germany at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2006 in Japan.
In a game that went to triple overtime, Germany prevailed 108-103 on the back on Nowitzki's tournament-high 47 points while Cipriano finished with a team best 33 points.
Cipriano and Nowitzki had an epic scoring battle in the Angola-Germany triple overtime clash at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2006
That kind of game, Cipriano insists, has developed his game.
"I have played against some of the most important players in the world and I have learned from them,” the 1.94m guard said.
"[Playing for Angola] helps me because we play a lot of the international games. We have taken part in many international competitions. Playing against some of the most experienced players it's like a learning process."
And it's that kind of international experience that the Recreativo do Libolo star believes the Angolans need to succeed in Brazzaville.
"It's going to be tough, but my country will be there to regain the title back to Angola," Cipriano offered.
At a time in which the rebuilding of the Angolan national team has become a hot topic in the country, Cipriano believes that Angola’s FIBA Africa U18 2016 title - their first title in three decades - came at the right time.
"They have done a great job. It's a generation that will keep Angola on the top level of African basketball," Cipriano said.
But despite ranking among the top three teams in Africa, they will need to succeed in FIBA Africa’s Zone 6 qualifiers for the Brazzaville showpiece.