Morans coach Owuor optimistic ahead of Afrobasketball qualifiers

National men basketball team Morans head coach Cliff Owuor is hopeful his side will shine in the upcoming 2021 FIBA Afrobasket pre-qualifiers championship slated for Nyayo National Stadium from January 14-18.

In the five-day championship, Kenya will be taking on other Zone Five sides; South Sudan, Eritrea, Tanzania and Somalia with a single ticket to the final qualifying round at stake.

Kenya will be hosting the championship for the first time in close to three decades after hosting the continental championship in 1993 and Owuor is confident of making it to the second round of qualifiers.

“I am very optimistic we will qualify for the second round since that is our only target. Similarly, all my players are in good shape having overseen them in our trainings at Nyayo Gymnasium,” Owuor told Citizen Digital.

Morans will be buoyed by their breakthrough performance at the FIBA AfroCan Basketball tournament held last year in Bamako, Mali where they finished as the runners up after losing to DR Congo in the finals.

Despite playing at their own backyard, Owuor is however wary of the threat posed by Somalia and South Sudan both of whom have a large contingent of foreign-based players compared to his squad majorly dominated by local-based players.

“The matches against Somalia and South Sudan are going to be very challenging for us but we have prepared well and I am happy especially how we have been adjusting to the sessions. The two friendlies we played against Inter-bank all stars and Nairobi Select were a morale-booster,” said Owuor.

The winner of the tournament will be facing off with Angola, Senegal and Mozambique in group B of the second and final qualifying round  to be held in March with three teams set to qualify for the main championship to be held in Kigali, Rwanda next year.

Some of the key players Owuor will be banking on include skipper Griffin Ligare and Faheem Juma who led Thunder men basketball team to the finals of the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) League for the first time in five years.

Others are Ulinzi Warriors’ Victor Bosire and Eric Mutora who bagged the 2019 KBF league Most Valuable Player and top scorer respectively as well as Kenya Ports Authority’s Ariel Okal among others.

The team will however miss the services of Ulinzi’s James Mwangi who is nursing an injury.