Year in Review: Morans provided the spark in a dull basketball season
Dennis Kamarikiin Nairobi
The year 2020 will go down in the annals of history as one that presented economies with a myriad of challenges.
Kenya was not spared with sports particularly being hit hardest.
With the pandemic spreading fast and furious, the restart of the national basketball leagues became impossible and the only positive of the season was the engagement of the national men’s basketball team, Morans, in the Fiba Afrobasket qualifiers at the tail end of the year.
Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, Kenya hosted the preliminary qualifiers of the 2021 Afrobasket Championship at Nyayo Gymnasium defeating all their competitors.
Kenya began this campaign remarkably well hammering Eritrea 112-64 before defeating Tanzania 95-59. In Game Three they humiliated Somalia 102-77 before registering a 101-83 win against Burundi in their forth match and later crashing South Sudan 74-68 to bag the sole ticket to the second round of qualifiers.
With this riotous performance, Morans garnered 10 points after five wins in the five games while South Sudan finished second with nine points after winning four of the five games.
Burundi came out third with eight points while Somalia finished fourth with seven points. Tanzania settled for fifth place with six points as Eritrea came out sixth with five points after losing all their five games.
The majestic performance at home, at Nyayo, earned them the dream ticket to the second phase of the qualification journey in Rwanda.
In Kigali, Kenya recorded two defeats on the bounce, in their opening matches against Senegal and Angola losing 92-54 and 83-66 respectively before recovering to win their final group game against Mozambique 79-62 .
This final group game had its own pressure, for both sides, but Kenya held on for a win.
Only the top three teams from the qualification journey after the second leg will qualify for the Afrobasket Championship that will be held in Kigali, Rwanda next year something team captain Griffins Ligare believes they can attain.
“We have a good chance, considering we won one match in the first leg, now it’s for us to start preparing for the second leg,” Ligare said.
But despite a myriad of challenges including reporting late to camp, assistant captain Eric Mutoro believes the lads put on a good show.
“We did our best, even though we faced a lot of challenges; despite Senegal and Angola being ranked third and fifth in Africa we really played well against them,” Mutoro said.
With a ticket to the final leg of qualification earned, Morans, under coach Cliff Owuor, lived to their big name tag and will be hoping to go all the way next year.