Kenya Morans step up 2023 FIBA AfroCan trophy hunt

Kenya Morans line up before a past AfroBasket match.[FIBA]

Kenya Morans are in non-residential camp as preparations get underway for the FIBA AfroCan tournament set for July 8 to 16 in Luanda, Angola.

Morans played for a second-place finish in the inaugural edition held in 2019 in Bamako, Mali, finishing behind champions Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Returning coach Cliff Owuor, who last handled the national team in last year's February window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers, makes a comeback and is expected to guide the team to another successful campaign on the continental stage.

Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) named a 29-man provisional squad that began preparations on Monday, June 12, for the competition.

"Part of the team is from the 2019 squad and bring with them that experience. The international talent is from the training and competitions we have had since the Bamako edition.

"Other call ups were made from the just concluded season's playoffs after impressing the panel of selectors that included the coaching staff led by head coach Owuor and his two assistants Collins Gaya and Ancet Wafula," team manager Maxine Milimu offered while naming the provisional squad.

Kenya Morans captain Griffins Ligare in action against Ivory Coast in Kigali Rwanda.[Courtesy-FIBA]

From the team that did duty in 2019 in Bamako, seven made the provisional squad with one, tournament top scorer Tyler Ongwae, declining the invitation to join the team as he has already called time on his International career.

Up for selection from the squad that featured in the inaugural edition are skipper Griffin Ligare and Ulinzi Warriors' guard Eric Mutoro, the only Kenyan-based players.

Others looking to impress Owuor for an opportunity to feature in their second AfroCan are forwards Ariel Okall currently featuring for Dynamo in Burundi, Fidel Okoth who is plying his trade in Oman, center player for Rwanda's APR Tom Wamukota and former Strathmore Blades' Ronnie Gundo who is currently unattached.

Missing out on the provisional squad from the 2019 list are Equity Dumas' Faheem Juma, Kenya Ports Authority's (KPA) Victor Odendo, Joseph Khaemba and Internationals Valentine Nyakinda as well as Desmond Owili.

Earlier speaking during the team naming, Wafula who represented the coaching unit called on all called up to avail themselves for training emphasizing that their commitment will largely inform their inclusion in the final squad.

"All those called up have the potential to make the final team but we call on them to show commitment. We have to hit the ground running and everyone has to be ready for the assignment ahead," he said after the team was named.

Additionally, the selection panel handed a few players their first call ups with Kenyatta University Pirates duo of Dolphine Otieno and Ivan Ombiru leading the list after an impressive season that saw the varsity side eliminated in the playoff quarters by eventual league champions KPA.

Ariel Ortega who guided United States International University (USIU) Tigers to a successful Division One title charge in the local league, and promotion back to the top-tier league makes the provisional list as does Dismas Mbaku who plays for KBF league's third-place finishers Nairobi City Thunder.

Ulinzi Snippers' (Div 1) Brans Nzioka, Africa Nazarene University's Paul Raburu and Stanbic Bank's Joseph Gitau are some of the other debutants who will be vying for places against seasoned national team players.

Equity Dumas' Victor Bosire who missed the 2019 outing but has made subsequent squads for other FIBA assignments since then is set to captain the team that has four players from the title-winning KPA squad namely Eugene Adera, Lennox Wanje, Job Byron and Brian Shivachi making the provisional list.

The travelling squad is expected to be named in the first week of July ahead of the team's travel to Angola for the continental extravaganza.

AfroCan is the new competition of African national teams directed by FIBA Africa.

The idea of creating this competition stems from the decision to organize the FIBA AfroBasket every four years instead of two years as before.
It was therefore up to FIBA Africa to try to fill the gap that the national teams would have to endure during the four years between the last and the next edition of this competition.

AfroCan is opened to all players evolving on the African continent. In its format, this competition will give players plying their trade on the African continent the opportunity to showcase their talents. [Additional reporting y FIBA]

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