NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 19 – Kenya Morans head coach Cliff Owuor believes the decision to bring the FIBA Afrobasket Qualifiers to Kigali, Rwanda will give them an advantage as they look to clinch a slot in the continental tournament.
FIBA announced that Kigali and Alexandria, Egypt will put up bio-secure bubles to host the first round of the qualifiers next month with Kenya set to play its Group B matches in neighboring Rwanda.
“I was very excited when it was announced that we will play our matches in Kigali. They are our neighbors and I believe we will have huge advantage there. I have coached there for over 12 years and we have three of our players who have had history there as well. I believe we will be feeling at home in Kigali and if they approve fans to be present, we will be well supported,” the tactician stated.
He added; “it would have been a bit difficult for us if the games were taken to Senegal as earlier planned but now with Rwanda, we are very comfortable.”
Kenya centre Tom ‘Bush’ Wamukota currently plies his trade with Patriots in Rwanda.
The Morans started training last week with a group of local based players after the government gave them a go ahead. They will face Senegal, Mozambique and Angola in Group B.
The second round of qualifiers will be staged in February and FIBA will announce the hosts at a later date. The qualifiers are played in a home and away basis with the Rwanda opener being the first leg.
Three teams from each group will qualify for the tournament and all Morans need to do is to win at least three games or beat a team home and away.
“I believe we have a good squad. Most of our players have been training even with the COVID restrictions and I believe we will not have a lot to work on,” the coach stated.
Owuor has already named a 19-man preliminary squad which will include star shooting guard Tyler Okari who missed the pre-qualifiers due to club commitments.
The tactician has also handed maiden call ups to Preston Bungei (Australia), Alonzo Ododa (Portugal) and Joel Awich (France) to bolster and strengthen the squad.
Defensive ace Victor “Jet” Odendo and Joseph Khemba have also been recalled to the team.
Kenya preliminary squad
Joel Awich, Victor Bosire, Preston Bungei, Ronny Gundo, Faheem Juma, Joseph Khemba, Griffin Ligare, Eric Mutoro, James Mwangi, Robert Nyakundi, Valentine Nyakinda, Victor Ochieng, Victor Odendo, Alonzo Ododa, Ariel Okall, Tyler Okari, Fidel Okoth, Desmond Owili, Tom Wamukota