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Kenyan teams gear up for 3×3 basketball Africa Cup in Cairo

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The men and women's 3x3 team with officials of the Kenya Basketball federation and NOCK
The men and women's 3x3 team with officials of the Kenya Basketball federation and NOCK
  • The women’s team is ranked fourth and the men’s fifth
  • The winners of the Africa Cup progress for the final Olympic qualifier
  • Kenya has never been at the Olympics

 Kenya’s men and women’s 3×3 basketball teams will be in Cairo this weekend for the Africa Cup, which also acts as one of the pre-qualifiers for the Olympic Games in Paris next year. Winners of the Cup will progress to the final qualifier, known as the Universality One, next year.

The men’s team, ranked fifth in Africa, has been drawn into the same pool with defending champions Madagascar, and will also face Morocco, Mali and Benin, whom they open their tournament against on Friday.

The Kenyan team has been boosted with the inclusion of USA-based Albert Odero, who was also part of the Morans team at the FIBA Afrobasket earlier last year.

Coach Zaddock Adika believes they have assembled a strong team and Odero’s inclusion will be a massive boost as they look to clinch the title, in the face of tough competition.

“We have assembled quite a good squad and had a good period of training and we are ready. The addition of Odero has really helped us because he brings in a lot of experience. We know we will face tough opponents but looking at how we have prepared, we should be able to win all our group stage games and make the semis,” the coach said.

Their aim, is to finish top of the group to earn a direct slot in the semis. Teams that finish second and third in the group will drop to the quarter finals, and the tactician says they don’t want to go the longer route.

Skipper Ortega confident 

Kenya's 3x3 men's basketball team

Kenya’s 3×3 men’s basketball team

At the same time, skipper Ariel Ortega says they are confident they can do well, and are driven by the desire to make history by sailing Kenya to its first ever appearance at the Olympic Games in basketball.

“This is really massive because Kenyan basketball has never been at the Olympics and we are looking to become the first team to put Kenya into the Olympic stage. It is a big deal for us and guys are really pumped up and ready to go,” said Ortega.

The men’s team also includes Faheem Juma who has experience from playing at the Commonwealth Games last year as well as Victor Ochieng, who makes the 3×3 team for the first time.

Meanwhile, the women have included Europe-based Mercy Wanyama in the final squad. Wanyama has recently moved from Lithuania to Spain and expects to play a key role for the team in their hunt for the Olympic slot.

“Every player wants to represent their country at the Olympics and for us it is not different. We want to go there and give our best to be in Paris. This is very big for us because Kenya has never qualified for the Olympics in basketball and we want to make history for the 50million+ Kenyans,” Wanyama said.

Strong team for Cairo

Kenya's 3x3 women's basketball team

Kenya’s 3×3 women’s basketball team

She will team up with skipper Natalie Akinyi, Hilda Indasi and Medina Okot in the team.

“We have a very good team compared to last year and we want to go to the Olympics. Each one of us wants to be called an Olympian so we are ready to give our all in Egypt. Playing at the Olympics is a good platform to showcase our talents and our target is to give it a very good shot,” team captain Akinyi noted.

They will be coached by Evelyn Kedogo, who helped Kenya’s Under-23 team to a silver medal at the Africa Beach Games in Tunisia earlier in the year.

“The training has been really good and we had a Strength and Conditioning coach for the first time and this has really helped us to build our physicality. I believe we are ready as a team and we have what it takes to win,” noted the coach.

The women will face Nigeria, Mali, Madagascar and Benin in their group.

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