BY JULIUS MBARAGA
It’s time for Vaceslave Kavedzija to prove what he has been sowing since taking charge of the men’s national basketball team back in June.
The Serbian who took over from Jean de Dieu Nizeyimana has not lived up to his hype after the team’s mixed performances in North Africa and against the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Today, majority of the national Basketball team are set to play the biggest game of their careers against Angola; the 2007 African Cup of Nations hosts, pre-tournament favourites and eight-time African champions.
Apart from Robert Thomson who is well within the NBA height range, a big portion of the national team will struggle to match the giant-like Angolan squad.
On top of their vast experience in the competition, Angola ranked 14th in the world has enormous experience in the world where they have emerged as the best African nation coming in tenth spot in 2006 world rankings.
One of the players Rwanda has to tight mark is Olimpio Cipriano. The 25-year-old point guard who was voted MVP at the 2005 CAN that was staged in Algeria has been an influential player for them over the years.
Before the team’s departure on Sunday, Kavedzija said that the players were going to do their best in Angola.
“We are grouped against quality sides but we are going to put up our best performances and see how it goes,” he said.
His assistant, Nizeyimana also said that it was always going to be a tough test for the local players who are only making their debut at the competition.
“The boys are only making their mark at this stage. However, they have the belief that they can pull off some upsets,” Nizeyimana noted.
At the debut appearance, Rwanda’s center of focus is getting past the group stage.
Besides Angola, Rwanda’s other opponents in Group A include Morocco and Cape Verde.
The Afro-basket competition has merged 16 countries and the top three countries at the competition will walk away with gold, silver and bronze medals respectively.