Kenya jump off their 2021 Fiba AfroBasket against Ivory Coast in Kigali today
After a 28-year absence, the national men’s basketball team, Kenya Morans, are back on the big stage as they take on Ivory Coast today in their opening match of the Fiba AfroBasket 2021 which kicked off in Kigali, Rwanda, yesterday.
Morans, who last featured in the competition in 1993, have declared that they are on a historic mission in the championship and head coach Liz Mills is plotting to surprise many by conquering the continent in her bid to lead them to qualify for the 2025 World Cup.
“We’re not going to put any limit on what our goal is but we’re going to try and we’re going to surprise a lot of teams when we get to AfroBasket,” Mills told AFP.
“The AfroBasket is the first step in a long journey towards the World Cup. We are, therefore, working at getting through and we are hoping to finish among the top African teams and qualify for the 2025 World Cup,” she said.
Kenya Morans are paired in Group C alongside former African champions Nigeria as well as Ivory Coast and Mali.
Ranked 111th in Fiba world rankings, the Morans are seen as the underdogs in the group and have their work cut out as they take on 46th ranked Ivory Coast today from 10pm at the Kigali Basketball Arena, before facing Nigeria, who are ranked 23rd, on Friday from 4pm.
They will wrap up their preliminary campaign by locking horns with Mali who are ranked 75 on Sunday from 1pm.
After beating 11-time Africa champions Angola 74-73 in their Group Bqualifier played at the Palais des Sports complex in Yaounde in February, Kenya is confident of replicating the same in Rwanda and the team captain says they are in Kigali for serious business.
“The team’s confidence is sky-high and that result [ against Angola] was the much-needed tonic.
Now, we must move a notch higher, and we’re, therefore, not in Rwanda to add up the numbers.
We want to get a good position and move up the rankings and I know we’ll be good enough to achieve the feat,” team captain Griffin Ligare told Fiba.
“We believe that if we prepare well, and put everything else into perspective, we will be fine,” added the 35-year-old guard.
This will be the fourth time Kenya is featuring in the continent’s premier competition with their debut season beginning in 1985 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and four years later, made their second appearance in 1989 in Luanda, Angola, with their third appearance being when they hosted the championship in Nairobi in 1993.