Too little, too late for Morans in Afrobasket quarter-final qualification decider

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021 00:00 |
Kenyan Men’s National Basketball team head coach Liz Mills (L) talks with the national team players after a training session at the Nyayo national stadium gymnasium in Nairobi on August 20, 2021. Photo/AFP

National men’s basketball team, Kenya Morans, came from a 20 points deficit to narrowly lose 60-58 to South Sudan in a crucial and thrilling FIBA Afrobasket quarter-final qualification decider, played Tuesday evening at Kigali Basketball Arena.

In a game of two halves, South Sudan reigned supreme in the first two quarters while Morans took charge of the second half, winning both the third and fourth quarters, but their late spirited efforts were too little, too late to overcome the South Sudanese side who had literally done quite enough in the first half for the hard-fought win.

“We had a great rally in the second half and we were just unlucky that we came short.

The huge defeat in the first quarter was the difference in this game. I truly believe, we put ourselves in a great position to win especially in the second, third and fourth quarters, but you can’t start a basketball with 10-0, and then five back and expect much against a team like South Sudan that has a lot of talents and well-coached.

However, it was a great learning opportunity for us as we head straight into the World Cup qualifiers,” coach Liz Mills said in a post-match press conference.

Morans started the match on a back foot, trailing 10-0 only a few minutes into the game but despite trying to fight back, the South Sudanese side kept turning around possession and scoring at will, restricting uninspired Morans to a 20-11 first-quarter lead.

They continued from where they left in the first quarter, forcing seemingly out of breath and technics, Morans, to struggle as they kept banging in points after points to also win the second quarter 19-13 and go into the breather leading 39-24.

However, halftime pep talks from Mills, saw Morans return hungrier, and more determined, fighting tooth and nail with ‘King’ Albert Odero, dependable Tylor Ongwae, Ariel Okall Koranga, Ronald Gumbo, among others, all rising to the big occasion, leading Kenya to win the third quarter 17-12 to cut the deficit to 51-41.

In the fourth quarter, Morans completely overpowered South Sudan with big moves and great team play to hugely win the final quarter 17-9 but it was, however, the case of not good enough and not soon enough to make a difference from their efforts as South Sudan hang tough to steal the victory 60-58 at the final buzzer.

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