Kenya seek historical return at Fiba AfroBasket 2021 tournament

Owuor said he wants to make a mark in the qualifiers

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Kenya basketball coach Cliff Owuor is eager to make history as his side prepare to qualify for the Fiba AfroBasket 2021 tournament qualifiers.

The Morans tactician revealed that he is keenly following the progress of his players who are based in the diaspora ahead of the championships slated for November.

He said he has introduced a new training schedule for his players – both local and abroad-after an online meeting he conducted with them a few days ago. The response, he said, is good going by the feedback he received.

“I have assigned them workouts via video, after completion, they will send it back to me for assessment and advice after which we will see how it goes. I want everyone to be fully fit when the team finally assembles for training,” Owuor told Fiba.basketball.

Owuor said he wants to make a mark in the qualifiers and is constantly exploring Kenya’s Group B opponents Angola, Mozambique and Senegal. He remains optimistic Kenya have a strong chance to return to the continental show after a 27-year hiatus.

“I have continually reviewed the performance of the Angolans in past games. I am also aware they have changed their coach. I am scouting the Mozambicans and the Senegalese,” he noted.
With the coronavirus pandemic gripping the global sporting activities, Owuor said self-discipline exhibited by the players during this time will be key when the action finally resumes.

“The discipline of the players as they go about their training is important at this point in time. They must all take care of their daily undertakings as they wait for the pandemic to end,” Owuor said.

 The play-caller said he will call for a physical meeting for the players in Nairobi and see what can be done going forward and if some training sessions with few players can be possible as they wait for an all-clear from the government.

They will organize friendly matches and have targeted Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo to fine-tune their preparations. Kenya know the task ahead is huge but with focus, all is possible.

Owuor, who guided Kenya to their first-ever podium finish when they earned a silver medal during the inaugural Fiba AfroCan show in Mali last year, remains upbeat about his team’s chances.

“If  I get all my players who are based outside the country in good shape and we train well for the tournament, we should do well. That is why I am really interested in their progress during this time,” he said.

Captain Griffin Ligare said they have been able to meet all on zoom and try to train every day. They check up on each other since at the moment they have to observe social distancing as they can not have on-court training.

“We do home workouts with the available space as our respective homes. We were hoping to resume training but will have to wait until we have COVID 19 under control,” Ligare stressed.

Owuor and Ligare follow daily training of the rest of the team, they also spend days watching the tapes of their opponents to give them an insight and help him understand their expectations.

Center Tom Wamukota who plays for Patriots in Rwanda and forward Ariel Okal, who turns out for Algerian top side Union Sportive Setif were already in action before their league games were cancelled but Owuor is following their daily training.

Denmark based guard Tyler Ongwae, forwards  Desmond Omondi (Australia), Ronny Gundo and Robert Nyakundi (USA) are other key players on coach Owuor’s radar.

He said: “Exposure is something good. If my players who are out there are able to play it will add a lot to their confidence. It will also help others who play alongside them.”

Owuor said the door is not closed for any player who is capable of making the squad. He is monitoring the progress of others who are based outside the country for a possible call up.

Kenya booked their ticket for the November window 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.

In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo

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