Espoir 59-64 IPRC-South
Patriots 82-66 UGB
IPRC-Kigali 81-84 APR
RWANDA national basketball championship side Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC-South) have set themselves an ambitious target of winning the first league title in 2017/2018 season.
The Southern Province-based IPRC, winners of the 2016 play-offs, started the new season on a promising note with a stunning victory, 64-59, over former champions Espoir on Saturday at Amahoro Indoor Stadium.
Forward Fabrice Rukundo scored a game high 24 points while Bienvenu Niyonsaba; the team captain added 19 points for the victors. Pascal Niyonkuru (21) and Armel Sangwe (15) gave the former champions, Espoir a combined score of 36 points.
However, IPRC- South head coach Charles Mushumba is aware of the magnitude of the task ahead and the bumpy road to the league title.
The former NUR Women’s team trainer admitted his team will have a stiff challenge to overcome against the usual favourites including defending champions Rwanda Energy Group (REG), the 2016 champions Patriots, APR (2010 champions), IPRC-Kigali and Espoir.
“We are right at the start of the season, and we are absolutely ready to give it all we can to challenge for the league title,” Mushumba told Times Sport on Monday.
He noted that, “It’s not an easy target, neither are we the only ones with the same ambition, but the level of determination we have, gives me confidence to affirm we are going to be among top contenders.”
“We have a good team, a blend of experienced and new players. We will only keep getting better with time. Saturday’s win against Espoir is a signal of how far we want to go and how ready we are for the new campaign,” Mushumba added.
The 2017/2018 campaign got underway on Saturday with three games being played on the opening weekend.
In other fixtures, Play-offs title holders Patriots defeated United Generation Basketball (UGB) 82-66 while 3-time FIBA Africa Zone 5 champions APR overcame IPRC- Kigali in a narrow 84-81 hard-fought victory.
Last season, then debutants REG claimed the league title with 35 points ahead of first runners-up Patriots (31), Espoir (29), IPRC- Kigali (29) and IPRC- South (27), who completed top five.