Kenya keen to sweep into FIBA AfroBasket qualifiers
National basketball men’s team Kenya Morans begin their hunt for an Afro basketball ticket today when they take on five other teams at a FIBA Zone Five pre-qualifier event that throws off today at Nyayo Indoor Gymnasium.
Sources privy to the finer details of the championship indicate that Burundi, who were not part of the initial list provided by FIBA Africa, have confirmed their participation, making it a six-nation competition.
Morans head coach Cliff Owuor yesterday named his final 12, dropping United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) guard Ariel Ortega, with Ulinzi Warriors’ John Washika having developed back problems just days to the competition.
With most of those making the cut having been part of the squad that did duty in the AfroCAN qualifiers and tournament, Owuor will have the fresh hands of the just-concluded season’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Victor Bosire, France-based Robert Nyakundi and Strathmore University’s Fidel Okoth.
Faheem Juma, who was unused in AfroCAN in Mali, also made the cut. Nyakundi has been tipped as the player to watch as he makes his debut for the Morans. Born in Arlington, Texas 31 years ago, 6ft’8 has had an illustrious career since his college basketball days with Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 2007.
He has played in Romania, Belgium and most recently in France where he has plied his trade since 2015.
He signed for Hyères-Toulon Var Basket in the 2015/16 season from Belgium and moved to Saint Quentin for the 2016/17 campaign.
The Kenyan-American then moved to Chorale de Roanne in 2017 where he has been in the team’s starting five for the last two seasons.
“The team is doing well. We have worked on chemistry and are ready to roll. All the teams are tough but as a tactician, I would prefer to start against Eritrea.
The draw is scheduled for Tuesday morning so we will wait and see,” said Owuor. The hosts are allowed to choose their first opponent in such championships.
Uganda and Rwanda, from Zone Five, got direct tickets to the qualifiers by virtue of participating in the last Afro basket championships. Kenya will be chasing the sole ticket to the qualifiers.
The hosts face stiff competition from, among others, the Luol Deng-led South Sudan.
The winner of the zone will play Senegal, Angola and Mozambique in the qualifiers as winners of the five zonal pre-qualifiers join 15 teams that took part in the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 in Tunisia.