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RWANDA bounced back from two defeats against Central Africa Republic and Mali to register a win (85-66) against Tunisian club Union Sportive Monasterienne (USM) in their final warm-up game on Tuesday night.
The senior men’s national basketball team has camped in Tunisia since August 27 for intensive preparations ahead of the 29th African Basketball Championships for Men (Afrobaket) that starts on Friday and will run through September 16 in Tunisia and Senegal.
Initially, Moise Mutokambali’s men were supposed to play DR Congo on Tuesday, but the later pulled out of the warm-up game at the last minute to allow their players to recover from fatigue and minor knocks from previous warm-up games against Central Africa Republic and Tunisia. DRC lost both.
Rwanda started the game slowly and lost the first quarter 14-9 but recovered to take the next three quarters; 21-17, 30-21 and 25-14 respectively.
Keneth Hubert Gasana was Rwanda’s top scorer with 17 points, Patrice Twagirayezu, Olivier Shyaka and Elie Kaje contributed 13 points each while Steven Havugintwari and Hamza Ruhezamihigo added 9 points apiece.
In a post-game interview, Mutokambali said he’s happy with his players’ fitness and sharpness from the three warm-up games-all played in Sousse before the team headed to the capital Tunis on Wednesday, two days before the much anticipated 2017 Afrobasket finals gets underway.
“We have had a productive camp here in Sousse, the training camp and warm-up games have given us a good opportunity to gel the mixture of experienced players and youngsters, who are making their first appearance. I think we are ready for the competition,” he stated.
Founded in 1959, USM is one of the best and respected basketball clubs in the Tunisian Premier League with three league titles and one national cup under their name—they have also reached the national cup final a record ten times, including last year.
Before Tuesday’s game against USM, Rwanda had lost the first two warm-up games against the Central Africa Republic (73-48) last Thursday and 67-68 against Mali on Sunday.
Rwanda will begin their campaign against debutants Equatorial Guinea in Group C’s opening match on Friday, while hosts Tunisia will be up against Cameroon in another group C game. All games will be shown live on StarTimes channels; Sports Premium and Sports Focus.