Thenational basketball team captain Aristide Mugabe is confident that Rwanda can reach the second round of the forthcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African qualifiers that are scheduled to start on November 20, 2017 and end February 19, 2019.
After Sunday’s draw that took place at a star-studded event in Guangzhou, China, Rwanda was given a daunting test in their bid to qualify for their first ever FIBA World Cup event slated for August 31 to September 15, 2019.
The quadrennial event that will attract 32 countries will be staged in eight Chinese cities namely Beijing (LeSports Center), Shanghai (Mercedes-Benz Arena), Dongguan (Dongguan Basketball Center), Guangzhou (Guangzhou International Sports Arena), Nanjing (Youth Olympic Sports Park Gymnasium), Wuhan (Wuhan Gymnasium), Foshan (Foshan Metro Sports Arena) and Shenzhen (Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center).
The 15 African teams of the 16 supposed to participate in these qualifiers have been drawn in four groups of four with Moise Mutokambali’s side in Group B along with reigning African champions Nigeria, archrivals Uganda and Mali.
The 16 African teams to compete at these qualifiers are the 16 teams to compete at this year’s 29th edition of FIBA Afro Basket, which is scheduled for August 19-30 in Luanda, Angola.
Rwanda will compete at this biennial event on a wild card, however, Mugabe believes with the new format that allows the home and away matches, Rwanda stands a chance to finish in the top three and progress to the second round.
“It all falls on how we shall get prepared but I believe we can progress, this competition is different from Zone V that is played over one week, this will be played over two-years with a home and away format with a big-time interval which would be an advantage,” said Mugabe
“One would say that its mission impossible to beat Nigeria but I am pretty sure that we can beat Uganda and Mali but as I said it will depend on how early and consistent we get prepared in all angles right from players, the federation and coaching staff,” he added
In the first round that will be played from November 20, 2017 to June 25, 2018, the games will be played over a three-window period on a home and away basis with the top three teams from each group qualifying to the second round that will compose 12 teams.
Rwanda will host Mali, travel away to Nigeria and then take on Uganda in Kampala. For the return leg, Rwanda will travel away to Mali, before hosting Nigeria and Uganda in that order.
The 12 teams will then be drawn in two groups of six that will also play each other on a home and away basis over another three-window period that will start from September 3, 2018 to February 18, 2019.
The top two teams from each group will then qualify for FIBA World Cup 2019 with along with the best loser to complete the five slots for Africa.