Fireworks as regional teams fight for places in qualifiers

By Elizabeth Mburugu: Saturday, January 18th 2020 at 06:30 GMT +3 | Basketball
Kenya Morans Valentine Nyakina and Erick John (left) of Tanzania during Pre Qualifier 2021 FIBA Afrobasket Championship at Nyayo Gymnasium on Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard] .

Kenya Morans will lock horns with South Sudan in their last 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Pre-qualifiers clash at Nyayo Gymnasium today. 

The two sides will have everything to play for as they battle for the remaining Group B slot and inch closer to next year’s continental showpiece. Today’s winner will join Angola, Senegal, and Mozambique in the qualifiers where the top three will qualify for Africa’s top men’s tournament.

Morans coach Cliff Owour said his charges will have to be at their best when they take on the Sudanese side who have been winning convincingly. “We expect a very tough match because South Sudan have been impressive throughout the tournament and have won effortlessly. Even so, we have prepared well and we are ready for the challenge,” Owuor said.

His South Sudan counterpart Ajou Deng said they are keen to play and win. “We are a young nation and it is our first time in this kind of situation but I am confident. It is just a match like any other and we are going for victory.”

He said Kenya also has an equal chance in the match. “Kenyan players also have what it takes to win because they play good basketball and they are strong in defence. Finishing second in AfroCan last year in Bamako, Mali is no mean feat.”

South Sudan, who have proved that they are a team to beat in the tournament, boast of experienced players who ply their trade in top league’s around. Out of the traveling squad, only one player Athiey Lual features in their 12-team league in Juba. 

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Kenya will bank on the services of Eric Mutoro who has been instrumental in the tournament as well as captain Griffin Ligare and Victor Bosire. Tom “Bush” Wamukota, Ariel Okal, Michael Makiadi, and Desmond Owili will be charged to counter the Sudanese who are advantaged in height. 

South Sudan who are strong in the shooting will rely on free-scoring Teny Puot who leads the race for the top scorer's award. Puot has been key in South Sudan’s brilliant run that has seen them score centuries in their four wins. Bol Bak, Kuany Kuany, Makuei Puondak, Deng Mayot as well as Akoy Agau will be out o ensure that South Sudan carry the day.

To overcome the Sudanese, Kenyans must improve on rebounds and deny their opponents chances to score three points which they seem to have perfected.

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