IPRC-South vs Patriots 11am
Rusizi vs Patriots 9am
Rwanda national basketball league title hopefuls, Patriots will be fired up going into the weekend double-header against IPRC- South on Saturday and Rusizi on Sunday, respectively.
Henry Mwinuke’s side goes into the two games with one thing at the back of the mind, dethroning defending champions Rwanda Energy Group (REG) at top of the league table standings.
Should the 2016 league winners and reigning Play-offs champions, win both away games, they will take their win ratio to 7:1; hence leapfrogging REG, who have played one game less, by two points.
Patriots, the 2017 FIBA Africa Zone 5 finalists, recently boosted their team with two foreign players; Junior Kasongo from DR Congo and Kenyan-born Michael Makiadi as the chase for the league title intensifies.
The Kagugu-based side will be looking to use the duo as main weapons against the Huye-based IPRC-South and winless Rusizi.
However, IPRC-South, winners of the 2016 Play-offs, will pose a big challenge to Patriots as victory for them on Saturday, puts them right into the title race and will do everything to try to deny their opponents a win.
Head coach Charles Mushumba said, “We are in the title race, let no one make no mistake about that, we’re contenders and we’ll fight to win every game, that’s what we will do Saturday.”
“We have a long history with Patriots, which makes Saturday’s game very important for us. We are treating it as a must-win game for us if we’re going to be taken as serious contenders,” Mushumba told Saturday Sport.
Two years ago, before the rise of REG, Patriots and IPRC-South were the two teams that everyone looked at as the next big thing in the local game.
Patriots claimed the regular season league title at the expense of IPRC-South in the last game of the season played in Huye but a few weeks later, IPRC-South returned the favour to win the best of five Play-offs finals series, 3-1.
Nonetheless, Patriots’ Mwinuke has tipped his men to accomplish the weekend mission, “This weekend is not just about our rivalry with IPRC-South, it is about winning two important away games and I trust my players’ ability to do that.”
After Saturday’s clash against the Huye-based varsity side, Aristide Mugabe-led, Patriots, will connect to the South-West of the country where they will face bottom of the table Rusizi on Sunday– at GS Gihundwe basketball courts.