ANTIBES (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers) - Max Kouguere has been one of a kind for the Central African Republic (CAF) in recent years.
But before Kouguere and his team-mates dream of helping CAF reach the FIBA Basketball World Cup for the first time since 1974 they need to pass the test of the first-leg of Group D of the World Cup African Qualifiers against Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire and hosts Mozambique from February 23-25.
"The African Qualifiers is going to be tough for us, but we are determined to reach a new positive chapter for our basketball," said the man who led CAF in scoring over the last three editions of the FIBA AfroBasket.
"No-one on our team was even born when our country last played in the World Cup, but we have reasons to stay positive. If one looks at the way we played at the latest African Championships, we feel that we can secure one of the five tickets for the World Cup" he noted, adding that: "Our fans are excited to see us play the World Cup Qualifiers because they believe we can beat some African teams."
Although Kouguere was born in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, he feels very much integrated with CAF's basketball programmes.
So much so that when asked about the importance of representing the former African champions, he replied: "I always feel proud to represent my country. We are all like brothers, and we play for the same goal no matter what."
Kouguere believes that Nigeria, Angola, Senegal, and Tunisia emerge as frontrunners for China 2019, but he also admits that they aren't far off from that group.
"That last World Cup spot can be anyone's'. DR Congo, Morocco, Egypt. Those are good teams, but we are going to do everything to go to China," the 30-year-old forward who currently plays for Antibes in France's PRO A, recalled.