Let the games begin

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 00:00 |
National basketball team Morans’ players gesture outside the basketball gymnasium in Kigali yesterday. Photo/PD/POOL

National basketball men’s team, Morans, begin their hunt for a ticket to the FIBA Afrobasket championship today as the first leg of the continental qualifiers jump off in Kigali, Rwanda.

All Moran matches will be aired live on pay television StarTimes, this was confirmed by the firms Regional Marketing Director, Aldrine Nsubuga.

“The broadcast of the FIBA Afrobasket 2021 qualifiers adds to our increasingly localised broadcast of live sporting events, moving forward, we are committed to ensure Kenyans continue to catch live major competitions that are relevant to them.

We look forward to a great outing by the Morans and call upon Kenyans to rally behind them as they make strides towards taking part in the continental tournament,” said Nsubuga.

Coach Cliff Owuor guides the 12-man squad as they take on former continental champions Senegal in the first match of group B that also has Angola and Mozambique.

Nine of the 12 players left the country on Sunday for Kigali where they were set to link up with Tom ‘Bush’ Wamukota while Tyler Ongwae and Preston Bungei traveled on Monday night.

Ongwae’s presence plays a pivotal role in Moran’s game plan as he offers coach Owuor an option in the guard position when a taller player is needed, depending on the opponent the team is against.

Coming off a busy schedule in the Denmark league and Europe championship, Ongwae admits that the back-to-back matches at the Afrobasket qualifiers might be problematic for players who have been inactive as well as for himself due to his busy season.

“We have played ten matches in three weeks just days after part of the team recovered from Covid -19.

There is a risk of fatigue but I am used to that kind of intensity in training and in our matches. We, however, have an advantage with the depth of our squad.

It helps us play for less minutes while giving the best to the team,” said Ongwae.

He added: “As a team, we are under no pressure. We are aware that the level of competition at the qualifiers is more intense than any championship we have played before but that serves as motivation.”

Coach Owuor believes that deploying Ongwae and Bungei in the guard positions, taking advantage of their perimeter shooting prowess against teams with tall opponents will give the team an edge.

“Our fielding will definitely depend on the opponent we are up against. Our guards Eric Mutoro and Victor Bosire give us a speed advantage while the two come in where hight will deliver results.

We have an advantage of a squad that is highly versatile and I have a good feeling about our preparedness.

I am confident we can handle those teams despite them being ranked higher than us,” said the tactician in an interview before their trip to Rwanda.

The tactician’s sentiments were echoed by team skipper Mutoro who says they are out to take a comfortable lead in the first leg and head to the February window just to confirm their qualification to the continental showpiece.

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