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Training intensifies

BASKETBALL
By - Erick Ochieng’ | January 8th 2013

By Erick Ochieng’

Foreign-based players join squad ahead of African show 

Five international players have been called up to beef up the men’s national Dar es Salaam-bound squad for the Fiba Africa Zone Five Championships.

The five are Salim Ali (Kampala International University), Desmond Owili (Uganda Christian University’s Canon), Rodney Genga (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa), William Otieno (Ulinzi) and veteran player Ancette Wafula (Kenya Commercial Bank).

Head coach Francis Ngunjiri and his assistant Peter Kiganya said they decided to include the five due to their vast experience that is needed in the national team that entered residential camp last Friday.

“We need players who can help Kenya overcome the Zone Five championship jinx, our aim is to make it to the Africa Cup of Nations and ultimately qualify for the World Championships in Spain next year,” said Kiganya who added that they are still scouting for good players.

Okwako Halwenge (Co-op Bank) and Kevin Gitonga (Usiu-A Tigers) who won  the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) Most Valuable Player and Best Defensive Awards  are expected to bring their skills and expertise to the team  ahead of  the event that rune between January 20 and 29.

Full house

Kiganya, a former international player, is combining   experience and technique  gathered during his hey days while playing in the US and South America, to help the national team gel at their training base at the Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium.

Kiganya, who is glad that the squad is full house and players are all motivated, hopes to strengthen and perfect the player’s skills on ball control, screens, passes and defense.

Kiganya said the current 23- man squad will be trimmed to 12 this Friday before they depart to Dar es Salaam for the continental championships.

While in Tanzania, Kenya will be seeking to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) set for Ivory Coast in August.

Kenya has attended the continental event three times but has never reached the medal bracket.

Finished fourth

They first participated in the CAN in 1985 in Ivory Coast where they finished 12th overall. The also finished 11th  in   1989 in Angola before finishing fourth in 1993 when they hosted the continental event.

Unlike the women’s side that qualified for World Championship in Australia in 1994, the men are yet to reach the global platform in the discipline.

The men’s national team has been tipped by former players Kiganya and Ronny Owino, who is also the current women’s national team head coach, to perform well during CAN and World Championships.

“KBF officials are fully behind the squad, we will give them the necessary support they need. I’m glad the Government has pledged sponsorship to the teams,” said KBF treasurer Peter Orero.

 


 

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