KIGALI (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) – Rwanda men’s national team are yearning to make a return to the FIBA AfroBasket after they missed out on the 2015 edition at the expense of neighbours Uganda.
Ahead of next week's FIBA AfroBasket 2017 Group F qualifiers set for Cairo, Egypt from March 12-18, Rwanda captain Aristide Mugabe told FIBA.com that qualification for the Brazzaville showpiece is a do or die matter for his side.
Mugabe however, reckons that it will be a difficult tournament because all the teams have stepped up and are looking good but he is rather worried about the hosts Egypt who he considers as favourites.
He said, “Playing at home is always an advantage as you can see Uganda qualified because they got the boost of playing at home and Egypt will enjoy the same advantage in a familiar setting with the home crowd supporting them however it still remains basketball.”
“We shall try to make as little mistakes as possible because we want to beat any team that we come up against. Our squad is made up of experienced players and upcoming ones and everyone wants to be better every time they step on the court.”
From March 12-18, Egypt will take on FIBA Africa Zone 5 rivals - Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan, Burundi, Tanzania and Somalia - as they look to qualify for FIBA AfroBasket 2017 Final Round in Congo-Brazzaville (August 19-30).
The two teams that finish top of the Zone 5 Qualifiers will secure their places in the Brazzaville showpiece.
Rwanda head coach Moise Mutokambali will be relying on Mugabe’s seniority alongside the shooting guard pair of Kenneth Gasana and Bradley Cameron as well as center Kami Kabangu who will stand tall in the paint.
Upcoming youngsters like Ali Kubwimana and Parfait Ishimwe will be trying out unprecedented waters but have welcomed the challenge.
“It is always a pleasure to represent our country Rwanda and we shall do everything in our means to carry the flag very high,” Mugabe added.
Rwanda represented Zone 5 at the FIBA AfroBasket in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 with Gasana finishing as fifth on the highest points scorers with 84 points in five games in 2013 in Cote d’Ivoire.
A return to the big stage is everything Rwanda are eyeing now.