Ongwae, Ligare spark Kenya Morans to life

Monday, August 30th, 2021 00:00 |
Kenya’s Taylor Ongwae dunks the ball at the Fiba AfroBasket 2021 championship in Kigali Arena, Rwanda. Photo/FIBA AFROBASKET

The national men’s basketball team, Kenya Morans have entered the quarter-finals qualifying round of the ongoing FIBA AfroBasket 2021 after edging out Mali yesterday in a Group C decider.

Taylor Ongwae, alive to the big occasion, sparked Morans to a 72-66 win over the Malians in a closely contested encounter. 

Ongwae sunk one three-pointer and a two-pointer in the opening quarter of the game to lead Morans to a fightback where Mali had started strongly scoring five points but two quick three-pointers from Ongwae and guard Victor Maisiba Bosire put Morans back into the action.

The Morans’ win not only allowed them to finish third in Group C and advance to knock-out qualifying round after recording two defeats and one victory (2-1) record, but it was their second victory in the competition after their first came back in 1993 when Kenya beat Algeria 80-50 in the Group Phase in Nairobi.

Morans fought hard to win the first quarter 22-18 and resisted Mali’s second-quarter onslaught, to tie the second quarter 11-11, with Morans leading 33-29 at halftime courtesy of Ongwae’s heavy involvement with eight points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals as impressive Ronald Gombe made one crucial block

On resumption, Morans took the matter to their own hands in the third quarter, winning it easily 22-16 to extend their lead to 55-45 but relaxed in the fourth and final quarter, allowing Mali to win it 21-17, but it was not enough, as Morans held on for the famous victory.

Morans won the match after making 57 rebounds, 17 assists, 19 turnovers, four blocks, and 11 steals.

Ongwae who was on the court for 38.57 minutes led his other teammates in search of the victory with 16 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals, followed by Griffin Ligare  with 12 points off 22 minutes of playtime.

Ronald Gombe was also outstanding in his 22 minutes of playtime after scoring nine points. Victor Bosire was also influential, scoring eight points from the 26 minutes he played.

Albert Odero, who had an outstanding performance against Nigeria, was also in the mix, scoring seven points from 15 he got in the match.

From the win, Morans are scheduled to play either Uganda, South Sudan, Cameroon, or Senegal depending on who finishes second Group D.

By the time of going to press, Senegal was scheduled to take on Cameroon, Uganda to face off with South Sudan to determine who wins the group to automatically qualify for the quarterfinals and who finishes second and third to meet Kenya.

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