Thursday 25 February 2021
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newtimes - 2 days ago

Five takeaways from 2021 Afrobasket Qualifiers

The national basketball team struggled to impress at the recently concluded Afrobasket qualifiers held in Monastir, Tunisia, but at last recorded its first win from the 6 matches they have played in the campaign – which is a positive development. In addition, the national team players got more exposure as they rubbed shoulders with teams like Nigeria and Mali in the 5-day showpiece. Rwanda has already qualified for the Afrobasket tournament as hosts. As the nation looks ahead to the tournament, here are five things we learned from the last window of the qualifiers: Nshobozwanumukiza sets world record 22-year-old point guard Jean Jacques Wilson Nshobozwabyosenumukiza is one of the players that stood out in the national team, as he registered an amazing 15 points and 14 steals against South Sudan, a feat that turned out to be a world record. For a player that has been steadily rising through the ranks, he now seems ready to stand tall and make a mark in the country’s endeavor to compete in the region, or even on the continent. Competitive warm-up matches are crucial Perhaps one of the things that Rwanda did differently in this window was to secure friendly matches against Morocco and Egypt, two North African teams that have been performing well in the game for a long time. This helped the national team in taking note of their mistakes and correcting most of them before going into the Afrobasket qualifiers. And this may be one of the reasons that the national team registered a win in this particular window of the qualifiers. Prevention of Covid-19 among athletes is important The qualifiers yet again reminded us of how important it is for athletes to take care of themselves so that they don’t contract Covid-19. In the Afrobasket qualifiers, Uganda’s fixtures were postponed after about 5 positive cases were identified in their camp. Fortunately, the team did not have to forfeit any points as a result of this. However, the fact that they will play their matches later may come with challenges in terms of expenditures, or even time – since they would instead be using that time to focus on preparations for the final tournament (that is, if they qualify). This is a reminder to sports teams that positive coronavirus cases in their camp can be very costly, and there is a need to put up serious preventive measures to avoid this. Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Egypt are the teams to beat During the qualifying campaign, four teams did not lose a game. These are: Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Egypt. As Rwanda prepares for the August tournament, the coaches may have to watch out for such opponents, plan for them and look at ways of playing against them – in case Rwanda is put in the same group with them. Kenya makes comeback after 28 years Kenya will be returning to the AfroBasket for the first time in 28 years. Their last participation at the continental scene was at the FIBA AfroBasket of 1993 which they hosted but fell short of a spot on the podium following a 90-76 loss to Senegal in the third-Place game. Kenya’s strides are a good development for the East African region, because there is a need for competition within the region.

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