NAIROBI, July 13 (Xinhua) — Kenya men’s basketball can dare to dream to dominate at the continental stage ahead of the inaugural edition of the FIBA AfroCan billed for Bamako, Mali from July 19-28.
The team, which has pitched camp in Nairobi for training, hopes their high momentum in the regional Zone Five tournament, where they dismissed giants Egypt, Rwanda and Uganda to secure the ticket to the FIBA AfroCan will carry them on to the continental title.
Kenya will come up against Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, Cameroon and Senegal in a tournament introduced by FIBA to offer local based players a chance for exposure.
“We have made sure that we clinch the zonal qualification and the team is in residential training and will want a helping hand from the government to enable us book the tickets and accommodate the teams in Mali,” said Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) chairman Paul Otula.
It will be Kenya’s first appearance at the continental finals and the KBF chairman Otula is confident the team will give a good account of themselves in Bamako.
“For long we used to dominate basketball in the region, but then we slumped and the quality of the game went down. But the team has rebounded and ready to claim their spot on the continental level and we will do everything to offer them support,” said Otula.
Kenya requires 20 million shillings (20,000 U.S. dollars) for the trip to Bamako.
The AfroCan is a championship that is organized for players based in Africa. However, participating teams are allowed to have two foreign players on their roster.
Teams participating in this inaugural edition are Mali, Angola, Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, DR Congo, Chad and Tunisia.
The team was congratulated by President Uhuru Kenyatta for their great achievement on returning to the African stage, the President challenged the team to be good ambassadors for Kenya at the Africa Games.
Kenya team will have more players called up by coach Cliff Owuor for training, with the final traveling team expected to be named on Tuesday.
Victor Odendo, Victor Bosire, Joseph Khaemba and Fidel Okoth have all been added to the team to offer the required cover for the task ahead.
Meanwhile the women’s team, which failed to clinch the Africa Games qualification, will be in Senegal for the FIBA AfriCan tournament next month.