UGB Vs Espoir 18:00
Patriots Vs IPRC-Kigali 20:00
National Basketball League champions Patriots will begin their title defence facing IPRC- Kigali at Amahoro Indoor Stadium on Friday night. Kick off 8pm.
Patriots claimed the 2017-18 league title in May despite losing their final game 57-64 to Rwanda Energy Group (REG) who were then defending champions.
The champions have beefed up their squad for the new season with two signings; Ally Ruzigande, from rivals APR, and Senegalese forward Jean Jacques Boissy.
Talking to Times Sport on Thursday, Patriots head coach Henry Mwinuke said, “We are from having a terrible preseason campaign, we will go into the IPRC-Kigali game looking for a winning start and proving that we remain Patriots, we are fighters.”
REG, who face IPRC- South on Saturday, walloped Mwinuke’s Patriots 88-59 in semi-finals last Friday en route to retaining the preseason tournament’s title on Sunday.
They beat Espoir 80-64 in the final.
Speaking to this publication in a separate interview, IPRC- Kigali coach Albert Buhake warned Patriots that, “Playing against us won’t be a walk in the park. We are well-prepared for the new season.”
The Kicukiro-based side finished in fourth position behind Patriots, REG and APR last season.
Also on Friday, preseason tourney finalists Espoir face lowly UGB in the league opener at Amahoro Stadium.
The women’s championship will start on Saturday with reigning champions IPRC- South hosting APR in Huye District.
By winning the 2017-18 league titles, Patriots and IPRC-South automatically qualified to represent the country at the 2019 FIBA Africa Zone 5 Club Championship. The host nation is yet to be determined.
Patriots are the most successful team in domestic basketball since the club’s establishment in 2014.
In the last four years alone they have won two league titles and two playoffs titles, and reached the final of the 2017 regional FIBA Africa Zone V championship staged in Kampala, Uganda.
Past champions since 2010
2018 – Patriots
2017 – REG
2016 – Patriots
2015 – Espoir
2014 – Espoir
2013 – Espoir
2012 – Espoir
2011 – KBC (now-defunct)
2010 - APR