Basketball fans in East Africa may be in for an interesting showdown in 2021: The Afro-basket Championship. This continental basketball tournament will take place in Rwanda’s new state of the art Kigali Arena. 16 teams will battle it out for the top honors. Most teams are playing their cards close to their chests while they prepare for the last round of the qualifiers. The qualification tournaments will be on various dates in 2020 and 2021 to determine which African national basketball teams qualify for the 2021 FIBA Africa Championship. However, what’s most interesting is that East Africa may have four representatives for this spectacular basketball showdown. If this does happen, it will be a huge plus for the region and growth of the game in general. These teams are hosts Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan.


Rwanda National Basketball Team in the 2019 World Cup qualifiers
Photo courtesy FIBA

The hosts, Rwanda, have an automatic qualification for the games. They will definitely be counting on home court advantage and home support. The Rwandese government takes sports very seriously, with the President, H.E Paul Kagame, on the frontline as the number one basketball fan. The Rwandese have had a great team over the years. Playing at home definitely turns the heat on and the fact is they will be looking to make a deep run in the tournament. The players to watch are veteran Kenneth Gasana, whose leadership will be a vital component for Rwanda to succeed, homeboy Kaje Elie and Dan Manzi who are strong leads on the team. What is your take on Rwanda?

Jimmy Enabu (left) and Jordin Mayes (right)
Photo courtesy FIBA

The Silverbacks of Uganda debuted in 2015 In Tunisia. They have participated in the tournament twice, in 2015 and 2017. They have dominated the region in the last couple of years. The team management has done a great job running the affairs of the team. Uganda is in pool E with Morocco, Egypt and a team to be later announced. Uganda has depth and is expected to qualify regardless of how tough the pool is. Brandon Davis, who plays for Barcelona, adds more firepower to their squad. The Silverbacks are going to be a tough squad to squash in the qualifiers. Their team core is still intact and the only concern is the health status of Jordin Mayes who suffered an injury to his achilles during the BAL qualifiers in Kigali. Apart from that, Uganda will undoubtedly be in Kigali come 2021. The Players to watch are Brandon Davis without a doubt, a healthy Jordin Mayes and homeboy Jimmy Enabu.

Kenya National Basketball Team at the Afrocan 2019 Championship in Bamako, Mali
Photo courtesy FIBA

The underdog Morans, under the leadership of coach Cliff Owuor, will be looking to make a debut in the continental games. They are in group B, ‘the pool of death’ alongside Senegal, Angola and Mozambique. Tough match ups for Kenya but the Morans believe its their time to carry the nation to new horizons.

Do they have what it takes to shut down all three teams? Qualifiers start on November 27th where Kenya is scheduled to open against Senegal in Dakar.

The Morans will be looking to continue their good run against these top African giants. The players to watch in the Morans squad are Okari Ongwae, Wamukota Bush, Eric Mutoro, Robert Nyakundi and homeboy Griffin Ligare. These guys have been instrumental in the success of the Morans in the last year. Only one question remains for the squad, ‘Can Kenya really do it?’ Well, November is coming.

South Sudan

South Sudan National Basketball Team at the Afro-basket pre-qualifiers in Nairobi

With Luol deng taking over operations at the helm of South Sudan basketball, things are looking bright. The game has taken on a new dimension. The Juba boys may have a chance after all. There is a vacant spot in group E which was supposed to be filled by the winner of zone 3 pre-qualifiers. If the zone 3 pre-qualifiers will not take place. South Sudan will secure the wildcard to play in a special pre-qualifier tournament where the winner will join Uganda, Egypt and Morocco in pool E. The Junubin Nation have a high chance of qualifying especially if they reinforce their team with the many talents they have overseas. If they make it to Kigali, East Africa will have four teams to watch in the Afrobasket.

Can the boys from Juba make it happen?

Well, there you have it. Let the games begin. East African Basketball is taking shape and it will be interesting to watch how things unfold. Remember Egyptians participate in the Zone V region which has all EA teams. Zone V will have five teams at the Afro-basket, if all the teams do qualify. I know everyone wants to see this happen. The East will rise.

By Ariel Okall


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