Rwanda’s failure to qualify for the 2017 FIBA-AfroBasket may be due to the fact that players lack the physical size compared to their opponents, according to head coach Moise Mutokambali.
The national basketball team has failed to qualify for the continent’s biggest show piece after losing to Uganda in the semi-finals of Zone V Championships that ended recently in Cairo, Egypt.
Egypt and Uganda automatically qualified for the FIBA-AfroBasket finals tournament that will be held in Congo Brazzaville from August 17-31.
Mutokambali explains that in basketball, height and size matters a lot but Rwandan players were undersized and lacked the physical strength to deal with their “bigger and stronger opponents.”
He also pointed to the fact that his squad played one more game in the group stage than Uganda before they met in the last four. Rwanda was in Group A along with Egypt, South Sudan and Kenya whereas the Ugandans were in Group B together with Burundi and Somalia.
“Though we won against Kenya, the game wasn’t easy because Kenyans are quicker and stronger. Egypt were even bigger and stronger compared to our players. Their point guard could be 1.95m while ours (Aristide Mugabe and Ally Kazingufu) are 1.75m. Only Kami Kabange could handle Egyptians in terms of height. South Sudan, all their players were born and are based in the US,” said Mutokambali.
He further added that Ugandans had called upon great players from the United States, emphasizing on 29-year old Darius Pegue, who went undrafted by the NBA in 2015 but now plays in the prestigious America National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“We have a lot of work to do on our physical condition because the sport of basketball requires among other attributes, good physique,” he explained.
Mutokambali picked out Kenneth Gasana for special praise—he averaged 21.6 points per game, saying that the U.S.-born Small Forward is the pillar of the national team.
He also mentioned newcomers Dan Manzi and Adonis Rwabigwi, who are based in the U.S., describing the two youngsters as the future of the team.
Meanwhile, FERWABA second vice president, Richard Nyirishema has revealed that Rwanda still have a chance to participate in the 2017 FIBA-AfroBasket finals as best loser.
“FIBA Africa allows two best losers in qualifications to make 16 teams in the completion, and we hope we will be there as best losers from our Zone V, which has more teams than other zones,” said Nyirishema.