"Who can even scout Africa?" he says. "It's so large. I'm thinking about going to Nigeria after what I've learned here, but who can scout all of Africa?"
Egypt docs not win after all. The Algerian game seems to have squeezed all of the emotion out of the home team. Senegal drops the Egyptians in a 99-83 upset in the semis. The future beats the past. There is no disturbance. The crowd is small. Gomis says the key to the upset was a special dinner with the Senegalese ambassador on the day of the game.
"He takes us out to eat, right?" Gomis says. "The bus pulls up in front of an exclusive-looking restaurant downtown. We get out and I notice that there's a Kentucky Fried Chicken next door. I don't think anything about it. We're all following the ambassador, and he...heads straight for Kentucky Fried Chicken! That's it. Training meal. The thing was, the guys loved it. This is the best food we had since we got here. We'll be back with the Colonel for the final, I'm sure."
The chicken, alas, does not work twice. Angola beats Senegal 71-66 for the championship and the trip to Barcelona. Angola has its chicken antidote—the Egyptian cheerleader suddenly works the small group of Angola fans. The Cairo Chicken. He stands on the railing and cheers. Preira, Senegal's star, has four fouls by halftime and never is a force in the game. Angola is patient and smart. Silva e Cunha has taught his lessons well. Angola handles the Senegalese press at the end. Angola hits both ends of the one-and-ones when Senegal fouls. The star is Jean-Jacques Conceição, who plays professionally for Benfica in Portugal. He is a 6'7" power forward who surely could play NCAA Division I basketball but now is 25 years old.
"We have practiced five hours a day," Silva e Cunha says, crying in happiness. "No other teams do that. The teams in the U.S. do not do that. We practice over 960 hours a season, play over 50 games. Did you see what Senegal was trying to do to us at the end? Foul us, hoping we would miss? Jim Valvano won an NCAA title at North Carolina State doing that. We made the free throws."
The Egyptian coach, Dr. Selim, has tried one last bit of gamesmanship. He has walked around the floor with a briefcase filled with empty ampoules and syringes he says were found at the Senegalese players' hotel. Senegal was on drugs. Senegal had to be on drugs. Did you see how No. 7, Preira, played against us? He was like Michael Jordan! And he never got tired! That was drugs.
The charge finds few takers, though the Egyptian press surely will run with it in the morning. There has been no provision for drug testing. There will be none now.
The result stands. Angola.
You watch as the winning coach talks in Portuguese into headphones at a table. Radio. Back to his country. You watch as he poses with his team at center court, Egyptian tournament workers somehow sliding into the edges of the picture as if they were part of the victory. The lights in the gym are turned off. You follow the coach and his team in the half-light to the bus. Two men also seem to be following. One is the Cairo Chicken, smiling, as always. The other is...his manager?
"He cheered for you," the manager says to Silva e Cunha.