GOING into the 2009Afrobasket championships, Rwanda had set herself a target of finishing inside the top eight.
The team finished one slot adrift but there were still a lot of positives to carry from their performance especially after surging to wins against some of Africa’s finest basketball nations like Cameroon, Senegal, Egypt and Cape Verde.
After the tournament, Times Sport talked to national basketball team coach Kavedzija Vaceslav and Kenny Gasana, Rwanda’s top scorer at the championship.
Interview with Gasana
What is your take on the tournament?
I think it was very competitive. All teams played hard. I also feel we were very unfortunate not to get to the quarter finals.
What can you say about Rwanda’s performance?
Given all the things the team went through (some players getting stranded in Dubai and others denied chance to take part in the competition and all that);
I think we played pretty good. We only played together for two weeks going into the tournament so it was very hard to get the chemistry going in the team. But for me, I still think five wins in eight games is a good performance.
Why was it hard for the team to build on their wins at the start of the tournament?
Like I said, we only played for two weeks as a team so during the opening games, we were still trying to gel as a team.
What can you say about Angola?
From what I saw, it looks like the players have been playing together for many years. They can read each others mind and have a very good coach.
What can you say about those rumours that Al-Ittihad (one of Libya’s top basketball clubs) is interested in signing you?
Playing in Libya, I think I would be interested. I mean it’s good to get out there and see different places. I have also been thinking about playing in France or Italy.
Played professional basketball before?
Yeah I did. I played in Chez Republic.
Oh my God… lots of rest. I’m going to take one to two weeks off and then start training there after.
Where do you see Rwanda in 2011?
I think Rwanda will be a handful if the team gets the right preparation.
What needs to be done to achieve this?
Practice is good but I think the team needs more games. The players need to get more acquitted with the game atmosphere.
Interview with Vaceslav
What can you say about the tournament?
This year, teams were a lot tougher than in 2007. They were well prepared and fielded good players who feature in Europe (Italy and France) and the US.
Are you happy with Rwanda’s performance?
Yes. We beat four of Africa’s top five teams. We also beat the hosts (Libya). I know that with good preparations and more tournaments, this team can easily make the semi-finals come 2011.
What needs to be done in 2011?
We need to have early preparations; atleast four months before the tournament. We also need to play as many friendly games as possible.