‘Morans’ intensify training , eye first AFROBasketball appearance in over 20 years

Written By: Bernard Okumu

Nationa Men's Basketball Team Point Guard Eric Mutoro in action during the FIBA Zone 5 qualifiers at Nyayo National stadium in 2019. PIC:FILE

 

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.

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‘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.

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‘’ 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.

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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.

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‘’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.

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National Men’s Basketball team power forward Valentine Nyakinda in a training session at Nyayo Gymnasium.
PIC:Courtesy

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.

National men’s Basketball team ‘The Morans’ line up before a FIBA AFROCAN match in Mali in 2019
PIC:FILE

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

Victor Odendo-KPA

Valentine Nyakinda-KPA

Fidel Okoth-Strathmore Blades

Victor Ochieng-Equity Bank

Tylor Okari-Baken Bears Denmark

Ariel Okall-US Setif Algeria

Joel Awich-France

Preston Bungei-Australia

Desmond Blacio-Australia

Ronnie Gundo-USA

Tom Wamukota-Patriots Rwanda

 

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