Defending champions Urunani of Burundi have pulled out of this year’s Fiba/Africa Zone V Club Championships, which starts today and will run until August 31 in Mombasa, Kenya.
The decision to withdraw from the regional tournament, arose from the team’s failure to raise funds for their trip to Mombasa. Two other Burundian teams—Newstars (men) and Berco Stars (women) have also pulled out due to the same reason.
According to reports in the Burundian media, the Burundian Ministry of Sports had promised to offer US$750 to each of the three clubs, yet each team needed at least US$900 to make the trip. Therefore, after failing to raise the money, they decided to pull out.
Urunani’s withdrawal, gives a big chance to two-time Rwandan champions Espoir because Burundian clubs have been their major threat in the competition in the last few years.
Last year, in Bujumbura, Urunani beat Espoir in the final 65-56, while Eagle Wings from Kenya retained the title after overcoming their Nairobi archrivals USIU 67-62 in the final game.
Espoir won Zone V title in 2012 after beating Urunani 90-39 in the final when the tournament was held in Kampala, Uganda. Apart from Espoir, Rwanda will also be represented by APR in the women category.
The withdrawal of the three Burundian teams brings down the number of teams participating in this year’s edition to 15—eight for men and seven for women.
The men’s teams include; Etho Water (Ethiopia), Coop Bank and KPA (Kenya), Espoir (Rwanda), I.L.S (Somalia) City Oliers, Tiger Head Power (Uganda) and JFK (Tanzania).
The women category has; Government House (Ethiopia), KPA and USIU (Kenya) APR (Rwanda), KCCA and UCU (Uganda) and Don Bosco (Tanzania).