The national men’s Basketball team ‘The Morans’ intensified its training at the Nyayo Gymnasium, Nairobi ahead of the FIBA Afrobasketball championship qualifiers slated for Kigali Rwanda, November 26th-29th 2020.
‘The Morans’ has been in residential training for two months now with team Captain Eric Mutoro picking out cohesion as key area that the team was currently polishing on with less than two weeks to the qualifying tournament.
‘’The key area that we need to work on mostly is the cohesion ,following the break occasioned by the corona virus pandemic ,the chemistry that existed in the team somehow faded but since we are meeting again we are keen on the squad gelling properly and get back to the chemistry that got us the FIBA AFROCAN silver medal .We are also working on the ball work and team defence’’, Mutoro said.
Mutoro remained bullish of sealing the qualification slot ahead of group rivals African powerhouses Angola and Senegal who have had European training stints in readiness for the championship.
‘’ I won’t say that it’s going to be an easy task in the pool matches ,we are going to be contenders, Senegal and Angola have been at the helm of African basketball for some time.This is a new era with new players and we believe that we are better than them and our main aim is to top the pool and qualify, our main is to go back to the FIBA Afro championship for the first time since 1993’’, The Ulinzi Warriors point guard added.
Head coach Cliff Our named a strong 17 man squad that includes 10 players drawn from five local clubs and 7 foreign based. Mutoro says the team has a chance of perfoming well despite having limited time to train together saying part of the squad had played together and were familiar with each other.
‘’You know before some of the International players turned professionals and went abroad we had played together for some time, we played together even in high school with a number of them for instance Tylor Okari, Ronnie Gundo we faced each other during the high school national championships. So when we come to the national fold its easier to work together. The international players will bring the exposure that’s needed at the top level ’’,Mutoro said.
His team mate, Kenya Ports Authority’s Power Forward Valentine Nyakinda reckoned that team is buoyed by their last year’s scintillating run at the inaugural afrocan tournament .
‘’We are going in with an intention of winning , just like last year at afrocan, we went there for results. We are preparing well to be able to outdo our opponents. Angola and Senegal have been at the AFRObasketball championships before, that’s the only advantage they have. For Kenya it has been a while since we went to the finals but we are hopeful of upstaging them and booking the finals ticket’’, Nyakinda said.
Kenya is in pool B along side record champions Angola,Senegal and Mozambique.
The second round of qualifiers will be held in February at a venue to be decided.
The top three teams in the group will qualify for the biennial African finals set for Kigali in 2021.
Kenya booked their ticket for the November tourney by winning the six-team FIBA Africa Zone Five pre- qualifier in Nairobi in January. They battled against Burundi, Eritrea, South Sudan, Somalia and Tanzania.
FULL ‘MORANS’ SQUAD IN CAMP
Eric Mutoro-Ulinzi Warriors
Victor Bosire-Ulinzi Warriors
James Mwangi-Ulinzi Warriors
Joseph Khaemba-Ulinzi Warriors
Griffin Ligare-Nairobi City Thunder
Faheem Juma-Nairobi City Thunder
Fidel Okoth-Strathmore Blades
Victor Ochieng-Equity Bank
Tylor Okari-Baken Bears Denmark
Ariel Okall-US Setif Algeria
Tom Wamukota-Patriots Rwanda