Rwandan basketball on right track, says Gasana

Kenneth (Kenny) Gasana is surely the main man behind Rwanda’s good performance at the just concluded 27th edition of the African Basketball Championships of Nations held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from August 20 to 31 where the team finished 10th out of 16 countries.
Head coach Moise Mutokambali giving tips to his players at the just concluded Fifa Afrobasket championships in Ivory Coast.
Head coach Moise Mutokambali giving tips to his players at the just concluded Fifa Afrobasket championships in Ivory Coast.

Kenneth (Kenny) Gasana is surely the main man behind Rwanda’s good performance at the just concluded 27th edition of the African Basketball Championships of Nations held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from August 20 to 31 where the team finished 10th out of 16 countries.

Gasana, as he has come to be well-known in the local basketball circles since making his debut for Rwanda at the 2009 Afrobasket championships in Libya, was born in a black American family of Gais Kenneth and Kenneth Wilson on November 9, 1984 in Texas, United States of America. He has one younger sister.

The  Shooting Guard, who turns 29 years in November, is married with a two-year old daughter whose birth in 2011 he says was the  best moment of his life. The family stays in the United States.

Gasana holds a bachelors degree in communications that he earned from Boise State University. He graduated in 2007, two years before his first appearance for the Rwanda national basketball team.

He went on to become Rwanda’s leading scorer at the 2009 FIBA Africa Championship, averaging 18.3 points per game, including a 31-point performance against Morocco, to help lead the Rwandans to a 9th place finish, their best performance ever at any  African Championship.

Early days’ objective

“Ever since I started to play basketball as a young kid, I always wanted to be the best player I could be and, at the moment, I stand here and say I have nothing to regret”

“I think currently I am the best basketballer Kenneth (referring to himself) could be,” he told Saturday Sport in an exclusive interview upon the national team’s return from Ivory Coast on Monday.

Did he ever dream of playing in the NBA?, “I never set myself any targets of ever playing in the NBA, which is every American basketballer’s dream, but only to be the best I could be as basketball player.”

Achievements

Gasana has not won many titles with his clubs or with Rwanda national basketball team. His only champion medal is the Fiba Africa Zone V Championship title he won with the national team in 2011.

In 2009, the then 24-year old, Gasana was first named in the national basketball team that played in the 25th edition of the Fiba Afrobasket Championships for Men staged in Libya where the team finished 13th.

In 2010, Kenneth joined Morocco’s national basketball league side Hoceima for one season but won nothing and the next season, he switched to rivals Plaza Sports Basketball Club where he has been until his contract expired last month. Contractually, he is currently without a club.

He says his biggest achievement and one he is very proud of is that playing basketball has enabled him to travel to different parts of the world, which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. “Basketball has given me so much,” he emphasises.

 “Once I get a chance to be part of the team, I always make sure I play to the best of my ability to help the team win; however, no single player can win a game for his team, it’s a team game which is why I rarely regret about what I could have done after any game,” he told this Magazine.

2013 Fiba Afrobasket

About the Nations Cup in Abidjan, the US-born player said, “This year’s championships were tougher and very competitive compared to the previous two editions (held in Libya and Madagascar).”

Rwanda, which has been the region’s sole representative at the championship since 2007, finished in the 10th place at the 2013 championships, ahead of the likes of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique and Central African Republic.

Overall, Kenneth Gasana was Rwanda’s top scorer with 87 points and one of the tournament’s most impressive performers. 

Plans after retirement

Rwanda’s first option Shooting Guard plans to engage in coaching when he retires from playing. He doesn’t have a specific time-frame to quit playing at competition level.

“Coaching is what I want to do next when I retire from playing, I love basketball and I don’t plan to give it up any time soon,” he noted.

Piece of advice

“The federation is doing a real good job to build confidence in local players and it is working out although it is long process, which requires starting preparing players at the grassroots level.

“With this, the country would have a large pool of god players for the clubs and consequently the national teams to pick from and the results will start to improve,” explained Gasana.

He noted, “I really must congratulate the whole team that played at the 2013 Afrobasket, everyone played their part in what was a very, very tough tournament. But there is still a lot we need to do to become a better team.”

“Its upon the more experienced players like myself, Kami Kabange, Hamza (Ruhezamihigo) and others, who should support upcoming young players in the team  to help them develop their career,” he acknowledged.

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