Morans face South Sudan today in AfroBasket quarter-final play-offs

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021 00:00 |
The national men’s basketball team, Kenya Morans.

The national men’s basketball team, Kenya Morans, will face neighbours South Sudan today in the Fiba AfroBasket play-off for a chance to play in the quarterfinals of the ongoing tournament in Kigali, Rwanda.

Morans earned the slot after finishing third in Group C thanks to a 72-66 win over Mali on Sunday.

Morans started the tournament with two consecutive defeats at the hands of Group B winners Ivory Coast (88-70) and Nigeria (71-55) before overcoming Mali to book their place in the play-off.

South Sudan, on the other hand, reached this phase of the competition after an off-court 20-0 walkover win against Cameroon. 

After conceding a heavy defeat to Senegal, South Sudan retransformed themselves in a matter of two days to beat neighbouring Uganda 88-86 in their Group D’s last game. 

South Sudan is the only debutant team in the tournament, while Morans have qualified for Africa’s flagship basketball tournament for the fourth time now but this is the first time since 1993.

In the pre-qualifiers, South Sudan lost to hosts and eventual champions Kenya 74-68 in January 2020 in Nairobi, forcing them to use different avenues to reach this tournament by defeating Somalia, Burundi, Eritrea and Tanzania.

Statistically, South Sudan has played only two games, unlike Kenya who have played three. 

South Sudan have averaged 81.5 points while Kenya have managed 65.7. South Sudan have conceded 95 while Morans have allowed 75.

 In terms of assists, South Sudan has a 16.5 average while Kenya has 14. 

The key players for Kenya are definitely Tylor Ongwae who has been the engine to the team. He has averaged a team-high of 15 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in three games. 

The 6ft 7in forward has been so impactful for Kenya that he established a tournament record for the highest minutes played (38:57) in a 40-minute game during the must-win clash against Mali. 

Only Cape Verde’s Walter Tavares spent more time (41 minutes) on the floor when his team beat Angola in overtime.  

But, Ongwae isn’t the only one making wakes for the  Morans. Albert Odero, Ronald Gombe, Victor Bosire, Okall Koranga, to mention but a few, have been sensational for Kenya. 

Four players have been crucial for South Sudan so far. Teny Puot, Deng Acuoth, Mathiang Muo and youngster Dhieu Deing, who turned 20 on Saturday, August 28.

If Kenya beat South Sudan today’s 7pm match scheduled at Kigali Arena, they will come face to face with defending champions Tunisia on Thursday.

Tunisia along with winners of other groups, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal qualified automatically to theAfroBasket quarter-finals with Kenya, South Sudan, Angola, Egypt, Guinea, Nigeria, hosts Rwanda, and Uganda battling out for the remaining four tickets.

Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali have all been eliminated after finishing last in their respective groups.

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