Kenya play their opening match Wednesday against Cote d’Ivoire as the team makes a historic return to Fiba AfroBasket championship for the first time after 28 years at the Kigali Indoor Arena.
Morans are in Group “C” together with Nigeria, Mali and five-time champions Cote d’Ivoire. The team, under head coach Australian Liz Mills, is on a mission to improve their image, having appeared in the event four times with dismal results.
In the first game of the tournament played yesterday, defending champions Tunisia thrashed Guinea 82-46 after dominating all the four quarters 17-9, 24-1, 21-14 and 2012.
In the second game, Egypt hammered Central African Republic (CAR) 72-56 in a Group “B” match. Egypt, who are eyeing their third continental crown after winning in 1975 and 1983, fought hard to contain their athletic CAR opponents.
Morans will be in sharp focus, and particularly coach Mills, many want to see how she will navigate the tough competition. Mills made history by becoming the first female coach to take a team to the continental championship.
On Monday, Mills named a 12-man roster comprising both international and senior local club players to fly Kenya’s flag.
Danish Bakken Bears small forward Tylor Ongwae, Rwandan Patriots’ Tom “Bush” Wamukota and Australian-based centre Desmond Owili are among key players in the team.
Captain Griffin Ligare is confident Morans will produce something special.
“Anyone who made it to the final 12 can actually get the job done. I have confidence in the technical bench’s selection. The key thing is that we are here after 28 years,” said Ligare.
The point guard also said that Morans are not in Kigali just to participate, but to compete and make an impact at the championship.
Kenya must make a clean job of the Cote d’Ivoire match to get their campaign off on a bright note.
On Sunday, the Morans lost their first international friendly to Senegal 74-67 at Green Hills School arena. They then lost to the Silverbacks of Uganda 59-40 at Kigali Indoor Arena.
Coach Mills said the scores were not indicative of the team’s capability.
Nigeria v Mali 12:30pm
Cameroon v S.Sudan 3:45pm
Senegal v Uganda 5pm
Kenya v Ivory Coast 8pm