Call of duty
Kenya’s hopes of featuring in the prestigious Basketball Africa League (BAL) men’s club championship rests on the shoulders of local champions Ulinzi Warriors.
The Kenya Basketball Federation champions are seeking to be the first Kenyan side to feature in the continent’s elite club championship after Kenya Ports Authority failed to qualify for the inaugural edition.
Ulinzi are scheduled to begin their final journey to qualifying for the competition today when they take on Cobra Sports Club of South Sudan from 4.30pm in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Kenyan champions qualified for the elite 16 which is the final round of qualification in second place behind Burundi’s New Star and have Cobra Sport of South Sudan and Mozambique’s Ferroviario Beira of Mozambique to contend with in Group H-2 as they seek to finish among the top three teams in the six teams in the East Division assembled in Johannesburg to book a ticket in the continent’s prime club competition.
“We have been in training since qualifying and, unlike our first round where we did not train as a unit while in residential camp, the squad has been together and we are raring to go.
We will stick to our game regardless of the team we are facing as we look to qualify,” Ulinzi Warriors captain Eric Mutoro said.
Coach William Balozi echoed Mutoro’s sentiment saying they have high chances of qualifying.
“We have seen all these teams in action and even played against Cobra Sport in Dar es Salaam in the first round of qualifiers. We know what to expect from them but, generally, it’s a fair group and if we play as we have prepared, we will go through,” Balozi said.
After the Cobra Sports Club encounter today, Ulinzi will be back in action tomorrow to take on Mozambican side Ferroviario Beira in their second and final Group H-2 preliminary match slated for 4.30pm as they seek to win both matches to sail through to the finals.
With Kurasini Heats of Tanzania and City Oilers of Uganda forfeiting the qualifiers, South Africa’s East Division will now have six teams divided into Group H-1 and H-2 where each team will play the other two teams in their group, and the teams that finish in the top two places of the group will advance to the Second Round to compete in the Semi-Finals, Final and Third-Place Game of each Division. The winners of the Semi-Finals and winners of the Third-Place Games will qualify for the second edition of the BAL 2022 Championship.