Kenya begins trip to 2021 AfroBasket

By Elizabeth Mburugu: Tuesday, January 14th 2020 at 10:23 GMT +3 | Basketball
Kenya Team's Desmond Owili (right) play against Ben Mbala of Cameroon team during friendly basketball match at Nyayo National stadium's Gymnasium on Tuesday night Nov 27, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Captain Ligare says pre-qualifiers are a tough hurdle to maneuver hence the need for a perfect start.  

Kenya Morans will today launch their quest for a ticket to the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket championships to be staged in Kigali, Rwanda.

Kenyans will be eying a perfect start as they take on five other nations in hunt for a slot in the Qualifier proper.

With the fixtures draw set for 10am and opening match at 4:30pm today at Nyayo Gymnasium, the homeboys have an option of choosing who they play first as a privilege granted to hosts.

They will be looking to overcome South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Tanzania and Burundi who made a surprise late entry into the championship.

At stake is a slot to complete Group B where they will join top guns Angola, Senegal and Mozambique where the top three will qualify for the August 2021 continental showpiece.

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Morans captain Griffin Ligare says even though they need to go through two qualifiers to make the last 16 that will compete at the top men’s basketball tournament in Africa, the pre-qualifiers are their toughest challenge.

“We just have to be at our best, play our hearts out in every match no matter who we are playing because there is no room for mistakes in pre-qualifiers. There is only one ticket available unlike the last qualifier where there are three slots,” Ligare said.

He added that even though they are playing at home, they remain cautious because their opponents have also prepared well for the championship and are gunning for the lone ticket to the final round.

“We have what it takes to win and so do our opponents. For instance, South Sudan players feature in top leagues around the world and I believe that kind of exposure is an added advantage,” said Ligare.

Kenya will also not be short of international stars as Coach Cliff Owuor named his final 12 consisting of foreign based players.

Kenya Team's Ariel Okal (left) play against Ben Mbala of Cameroon team during friendly basketball match at Nyayo National stadium's Gymnasium on Tuesday night Nov 27, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Experienced Robert Nyakundi, Tom “Bush” Wamukota, Michael Makiadi and Desmond Owili will bring a wealth of experience gained internationally to Morans.

Ulinzi Warriors guard Victor Bosire will be out to make his return to Morans’ count having missed Kenya’s trip to Bamako, Mali where they finished second in the AfroCan tournament.

Fidel Okoth of Strathmore University Blades, Victor “Electric” Ochieng of Equity Bank, Valentine Nyakinda also made the cut s coach Cliff Owour named his final squad yesterday.

United States International University’s Ariel Ortega and Ulinzi’s Joseph Khaemba didn’t make the cut.

and will have to wait for another chance to represent the country.

Ligare noted that they are eying a perfect start which will boost their chances of emerging tops.

“We want to be in Kigali next year but the work starts now; our aim is to start well, win at home which will move us closer to booking our continental ticket then strategise on how to compete with the likes of Angola and Senegal,” he concluded.


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