Editor: Brenda Mwaniki
Afrobasket 2021 is what all basketball fans in Africa are waiting for. This major basketball extravaganza will take place in Kigali, Rwanda on the 24th of August 2021 to the 5th of September 2021.
In the just concluded qualifying tournament, we witnessed four East African teams compete for the last 16 spots. Kenya Morans, led by coach Cliff Owuor in the first round and later Australian coach Liz Mills in the final round, secured their place in the Afrobasket after a drought of 28 years. The Morans made history after beating Angola in Yaounde, Cameroon 74-73 in a manner that will be remembered by many. The Morans’ go-to guy, Taylor Okari, hit a game winner at the buzzer to clinch victory. His shot will go down as one of the most iconic shots in Kenyan basketball history.
Kenya is now back to the big boys league and we are anxious to see how good they can be. The Morans’ spears are sharp and they rose to the occasion.
The South Sudanese Bright Stars’ journey wasn’t as easy as it may seem. Their campaign was full of wildcards, one after the another and they proved that they deserve them. They went to the FIBA wildcard tournament in Cameroon and lost to Cape Verde but got lucky after Algeria pulled out of the first window of qualifiers. South Sudan got the opportunity to showcase what they are made of. The Bright Stars beat host Rwanda, Mali and lost to Nigeria but they were in a great position to qualify in the second round. They beat Mali and finished second in group D to solidify their spot in the Afrobasket. South Sudan showed character and resilience and it was rewarded. Under the stewardship of their federation president and coach Luol Deng, their basketball is growing and we are yet to see how far they will go. The Bright Stars keep on shining.
Rwanda finished fourth in group D winning only one game against South Sudan in the just concluded second window. However being the host they get the only wildcard that was available. This ensures that Rwanda will be at the August showdown in front of their home fans. They better put their house in order or it won’t be a good show.
The uncertainty surrounding the Uganda Silverbacks is yet to be settled. Uganda won two out of three games in the first window then they took a blow after five members of the team tested positive for the deadly Corona virus. Note that even if Uganda lost all games in the second round, they would have qualified. We are yet to understand what’s next for Uganda as we wait for FIBA to issue a way forward. We hope Uganda gets to play the remaining games.
East Africa was rising and the game has taken a whole new dimension. It can only get better from here. The game in the East will speak for itself. Congratulations to all the respective teams we hope to see all of you in Kigali, healthy and ready to take on Africa. The East Has Risen.