A head of the Fiba Afrobasket pre- qualifiers set to be held in Rwanda from Wednesday,the National men’s basketball team head coach Cliff Owuor has since named a 12 man squad that departed for the championship on Sunday.
Among the notable absentees from the squad is the Afrocan tourney captain Griffin Ligare who was dropped and his place taken by Kenya Ports Authority utility player Victor Odendo.
The 36 year old who dribbled his way into fans’ hearts has been an integral part of the team since 2006 after sealing his first national team debut as he travelled to Kigali, Rwanda for an AfroBasket qualifying tournament.
Owuor said that the Thunder point guard was omitted from the team because of work commitments at the International School of Kenya where he is a Physical Education teacher.
“It is so unfortunate our captain wasn’t released by his employers due to work commitments. We will definitely miss his services as he has been a key figure in our recent success especially in the zone 5 in Nairobi earlier this year. Nevertheless we have a capable replacement in Odendo who has been training hard and we hope he will rise to the occasion” Owuor said.
Last year in his first task as the national team skipper, Ligare led Kenya to a Zone V men’s title in Kampala Uganda. He was also brilliant in Kenya’s historic 97-79 over North Africa giants Egypt, a first as Kenyans had never beaten the Egyptians in the sport before.
On his part,the Algerian based Aerial Okal remained optimistic of good performance saying they are well prepared a head of the showpiece which will be aired on KBC Channel 1.
The doctor as he is commonly known among basketball fraternity became the second Kenyan to play in North Africa with Tom ‘Bush’ Wamukota now plying his trade with the Patriots of Rwanda.
“The boys are high spirits and we are hoping for a good show.The morale is high and Kenyans should rally behind us even if we are playing away from home”
Kenya will open its Group B fixtures on November 25 against Senegal, then face Angola the following day before wrapping up their group stages match against Mozambique on November 27.
The Morans defied all odds to beat stubborn South Sudan in the finals of the pre-qualification games last year at the Nyayo Stadium gymnasium and will hope on that form when they take on their group opponents.
Full ‘Moran’ Squad
Victor Bosire (Ulinzi Warriors)
Eric Mutoro (Ulinzi Warriors)
Tylor Okari (Bakkan Bears-Denmark)
Fahim Juma (Thunder)
Victor Odendo (KPA)
Valentine Nyakinda (KPA)
Airel Okal (Algeria)
Fidel Owuor ( Strathmore)
Desmond Blacio Owili (Australia)
Preston Bungei (unattached)
Ronnie Gundo( unattached)
Bush Wamukota ( Patriots Rwanda)