Kenyan men began their Fiba Africa Zone V Basketball Championships campaign with a 75-60 loss to Rwanda in Cairo, Egypt yesterday.
Kenya trailed for most of the entire Group A match. The well-oiled Rwandese, who had a one week camp in Egypt ahead of the tournament, were clearly superior in most departments.
The Kenyans had an improved show in the third quarter, which saw them cover a huge margin, but that was not enough to do Rwanda any damage.
In the last quarter, Rwanda, led by captain Aristide Mugabe, got the better of their opponents as they sealed the deserved victory.
Ahead of the match, Mugabe told Fiba.com that they are in the tournament to reclaim their lost glory to neighbours Uganda, who defeated them in the 2015 continental championships.
"We lost to hosts Uganda by a whisker two years ago, but this time round, we are not joking. Kenya should be ready for the worst," Mugabe said ahead of the match.
"Our objective is to return to FIBA AfroBasket. This is the main thing we want from this tournament. It does not matter whether we finish as champions or runner-up; the goal is to qualify for the Final Round," Mugabe added.
Mugabe, however, reckons that Group A is a pool of death and even Kenya has a chance of qualifying for the continental championship to be held in Brazzaville, Congo between August 19-30.
"It is a difficult tournament because all teams have stepped up and are looking good, but I am rather worried about hosts Egypt, whom I consider as favourites,"he said.
"Playing at home is always an advantage. Uganda qualified in 2015 because they got the boost of playing at home and Egypt will enjoy the same advantage in a familiar setting, where the home crowd will be supporting them, however, it still remains basketball. A very competitive match, where everyone must be at their best."
Kenyan women were expected to play defending champions Uganda yesterday from 10:15pm. Kenya's captain Hilda Indasi, Samba Mjomba and Mercy Wanyama were all optimistic ahead of their clash with Uganda, saying they are confident of winning.
The top two teams in the women's round-robin qualifiers will secure a place in the Brazzaville showpiece.