APR will struggle to flex muscles with its major rivals, more particularly champions Espoir, in the national basketball league this season, its coach Cliff Owuor has conceded.
The 43-year-old Kenyan tactician says the national league is by far more competitive than in the past.
Owuor has coached APR men basketball team since 2006 guiding them to four consecutive league titles before seeing Kigali Basketball club (KBC) win the 2011 league and then Espoir in 2012.
And even after beating second-placed Rusizi 75-48 in their first game of the second round at the weekend, Owuor reckons his is a team for the future.
“I am not under pressure to win the league title because my team is still young, we are still in the rebuilding process; nonetheless we will be in position to fight for the title after this season,” the former Kenyan international told Times Sport on Monday.
During the Saturday game, APR’s Sunny Munyandamutsa and Rafiki Mouhamed scored 15 points each to help the military side move into second spot alongside Rusizi and KCB.
APR won the first quarter 17-12 and the second 39-15.
Rusizi, who prior to the game had only lost once – to champions Espoir – in the first round, tried to bounce back in the third quarter which they closely won 19-18.
However, Owuor’s boys regrouped to claim the fourth quarter 18-14, subsequently wrapping up the game 75-48.
After the victory, a seemingly relieved Owuor said, “I am happy we have won but we need to work harder because we are yet to get to where we want to be and the players know it.”
Espoir, unbeaten in the league since the start of last season, lead the table with 14 points after seven games and are tipped to retain the regular season title.
CSK are in fourth position with 10 points; two ahead of fifth-placed United Generation Basketball (UGB) while 30-Plus are bottom with six pts.
Rusizi coach Marc Tunga, whose team lost 88-81 to KCB on Sunday, said, “It’s a big disappointment to lose two back to back games, but we need to put it aside and focus on the next games, we need stay focused.”
On Friday, Espoir beat former champions CSK 89-48 to edge closer to retaining their title. Jean Bahufite’s side dominated all four quarters; 18-8, 21-13, 19-1 and 31-8.