MARINE have confirmed that they are pulling out of next year’s National Basketball League. The 2007 champions, who gifted Espoir an easy passage to the play-off final after failing to show up for last Saturday’s play-off tie have attributed their exit to financial reasons and managerial problems.
“We have decided to take a temporary break from the league,” the club president Major Theodomir Bahizi.
“We are taking a break but we remain committed to seeing the sport grow even further.”
“We want to sort out a few issues in the club and then see where to go from there,” he said.
An official from the local basketball governing body (Ferwaba) fears that Marine’s departure is a big blow for Rwandan basketball, “For the last three years, Marine’s rivalry with APR has contributed a lot to the development of the sport. They will be dearly missed.”
Marine made their league debut in 2005 where they finished 3rd. In 2006, they finished second before clinching onto their maiden league title the following year.
In 2008 and 2009, the Rubavu-based side finished second to Cliff Owuor’s Indomitable lions. This year, Marine finished four points adrift of APR who amassed 28 points in a credible season were they did not lose a single game.
Marine’s only defeats came at the hands of APR. In the first round, APR finished 70-62 winners before securing a 85-80 second round victory.
“It is sad that they are pulling out because they had taken local basketball to new heights. There rivalry with APR was very healthy for the sport,” Owuor conceded.
Since 2004 when Espoir lifted the league title, Marine has stood out as APR’s key challenger to the league crown and there was little surprise when the youthful club finally halted the Indomitable lions’ dominance in 2007.
The likes of APR, Espoir and CSK are now said to be waiting in the wings to pounce on Marine’s key players like Aboubacar Barame and Bunene Kajeguhakwa.