Basketball: Patriots plot revenge against IPRC-Kigali in Heroes Cup

IPRC-Kigali stunned Patriots 85-80 in the BK Basketball National League last Friday. Courtesy

APR vs Tigers - 18:00
Patriots vs IPRC-Kigali - 20:00

PATRIOTS Basketball Club have vowed they will be seeking revenge for their painful league start when they face IPRC–Kigali in the National Heroes Cup tournament on Friday.

The game starts at 8pm, at Amahoro Indoor Stadium.

Jean Bahufite’s IPRC-Kigali stunned two-time reigning champions Patriots 85-80 last Friday in the two sides’  league debut this season; marking the first time in over ten years that the holders were defeated at home in their first game.

Patriots started their title defence without a permanent head coach following the departure of Henry Mwinuka who joined local rivals REG in November.

Kenyan Francis Odhiambo who was in charge during the Basketball Africa League (BAL) final round qualifiers has also since returned home after the club did not offer him a contract.

Speaking to Times Sport on Thursday, Jean Claude Mukurarinda, the team manager who has since been upgraded to interim coach, admitted that it was a disappointing start but the team had picked positives from the defeat and “we are focused on the rematch right now.”

“Overall we played a good game, but a few individual mistakes cost us. Nonetheless, we picked positives from the defeat and we are ready for our second game. The players have stepped up for a must-revenge,” said Mukurarinda.

He further warned hopefuls – including holders REG – that his side are not only looking to return the favour when they take on IPRC–Kigali, but they are also targeting Heroes Cup as their first title this term, which “would brighten the players’ morale ahead of the BAL tournament.”

The inaugural BAL regular season tips off in March, with the final four and the finale due at Kigali Arena in May. Patriots are one of the 12 African teams comprising the tournament.

In another Day 1 game on Friday, APR delight newcomers Tigers in the Heroes Cup opener. Kick-off 6pm, same venue. REG will start the quest for their third title in a row against IPRC–South on Saturday.

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