Morans: We are more inspired than pressured
National men’s basketball team’s head coach Cliff Owuor believes that fans’ expectations for a good showing at the Afrobasket qualifiers scheduled for November 25-29 in Kigali, Rwanda will be a positive push for his charges to perform better.
According to the tactician, all the players are aware of the task ahead and despite meeting teams ranked higher than them they are ready to give everything on the court as they chase a slot to the championship slated for next year August.
Kenya Morans’ run at the FIBA AfroCan in Mali last year, where they finished second, and their performance at the Afrobasket pre-qualifiers held in January in Kenya where they won the ticket to the qualifiers against five other nations, has fans expecting better from the team in Kigali.
To be noted, however, is the fact that at the FIBA AfroCan, teams were only allowed to field only three foreign-based players. So the teams’ composition at the qualifiers is therefore likely to be different.
“Pressure comes with the job and as a coach, I have been here before. I acknowledge the pressure and the players are also aware that they will be meeting highly ranked teams but the fans’ expectation will not change.
We are, however, taking this as encouragement and inspiration to up our game.
Knowing that we have over 50 million Kenyans believing in us to clinch that slot to the Afrobasket championship builds the team’s confidence,” said Owuor.
Observed he: “Up against Senegal, Angola and Mozambique, it has been said we are in the group of death but I dare say we are part of that death.
My squad knows the weight on their backs and that has instilled a sense of discipline in every player.
It is also easy to convince them to stay away from detractors. They are upbeat and focused.
We are ready to challenge these teams that have been in this stage before, despite missing out in the last 27 years ourselves.”
According to the tactician, there has been considerable growth in all players who have already reported for camp since playing in the pre-qualifier in January.
With no action for the majority of the squad members since the Covid-19 outbreak in March, the players have dedicated their time to getting ready for this competition.
Owuor’s sentiments on the team being inspired by the support they are receiving were echoed by team captain Griffin Ligare who added that instead of focusing on what their opponents have that they lack, the Morans have dedicated their time reinforcing their strengths and working on their weak points.