LUANDA (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers) - Following a very impressive FIBA AfroBasket 2017, Democratic Republic of Congo are excited about their prospects at the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers Group A tournament in the Angolan capital from November 24-26.
"After defeating the then defending champions Nigeria in Tunisia, everyone started respecting us and taking us seriously. Now we have confidence and we know that we can defeat any team," - Kiembe.
DR Congo find themselves in the "group of death" much to the admission of Kiembe along with hosts Angola, Morocco and Egypt all fighting to progress to the Second Phase which is reserved for the top three sides after the First Round.
In an exclusive interview with FIBA.basketball, Kiembe said, "This is the group of death for sure, however, if we want to be at the top, we have to overcome challenges like this one. We have to beat the top teams in Africa."
"We have a young team now because we are trying to plan for the future. It is very important for us to think long term too."
"After defeating the then defending champions Nigeria in Tunisia, everyone started respecting us and taking us seriously. Now we have confidence and we know that we can defeat any team."
In a shock Group A win, the Leopards defeated D'Tigers 83-77 and it is against this background therefore that Kiembe wants his side to build on going forward but first the battle for a ticket to China.
To spearhead this dream is the experienced trio of the dependable Herve Kabasele, Pitchou Manga and Gullit Kabanga Mukendi whose experience will come in handy to help the Leopards on both offense and defense.
Shekinah Munanga, 19, a forward based in Monaco, who is going to feature for the Leopards for the very first time believes that his side has what it takes to challenge the big sides.
"Everything is possible in basketball. We are here to try and do our very best and we shall compete with one goal - to win," Munanga said.
DR Congo open their World Cup qualifying campaign against Egypt on Friday afternoon at the Kilamba Arena at 15:30 GMT +1.