KINSHASA (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers) - The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers starting in November is the Democratic Republic Congo's next big target, and the team star point guard Lukusa Myck Kabongo knows it.
And to do so, they will try to secure one of the five tickets on offer for African teams for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China.
Therefore, the Congolese's dream of qualifying for a world stage competition for the very first time begins with a challenging task of finishing in the top three places of Group C of the qualifiers - which consists of Angola, Egypt and Morocco.
While the top-three teams of each group will advance to the decisive 12-team round of the qualifiers, which will see national teams play home-and-away games, the teams that finish bottom of the group will be eliminated.
"We have the talent to do it, we have the right coaching staff. We have the right amount of guys that can do it. We have a couple of NBA guys who weren't even [at FIBA AfroBasket 2017]. When you add those guys into the mix, what we can do as a team is very special and we know that. We are just trying to start up a new page in history for [Democratic Republic] Congo basketball and our nation is pretty excited for us."
For a team that had last competed at FIBA Africa's most important competition in 2007, outscoring Nigeria has been described as their biggest win in the history of the competition.
However, Kabango insists that this is just the beginning of something special.
"I am forever here. I am born here and it means a lot more to play for this country, and I am giving hope for kids. I know there is a lot of kids out there that never imagined basketball being this big of a deal.
The 6ft2in (1.89m) guard, who moved to Canada with his family as a child, may have never played for his native country prior to the latest African Championship, however, that wasn't an one-off experience,'' he revealed.
"To put on a Congolese uniform, for me, it’s above the best honor I could ever achieve in my basketball career because it’s for all nation."
Kabongo was one of his national team top performers last month with averages of 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and a team-high 4.8 assists per game.