FIBA-Africa Zone V: Patriots, REG begin quest for first regional title

Rwanda Energy Group (REG) Basketball Club have beefed up their squad with Rwanda internationals; guard Hamza Ruhezamihigo (left) and shooting guard Kenneth Gasana. File photo

Today

Group A

EWSA (Ethiopia) vs Smouha (Egypt) 10am

KPA (Kenya) vs REG (Rwanda) 12pm

Cobra (S.Sudan) vs JKT (Tanzania) 2pm

Group B

Wolkite (Ethiopia) vs Patriots (Rwanda) 6:30pm

Al-Ahly (Egypt) vs Oilers (Tanzania) 8:30pm

New Stars (Burundi) vs Strathmore (Kenya) 10:30pm

RWANDA’s representatives in the men’s category of this year’s FIBA Africa Zone V Club Championship, Patriots and Rwanda Energy Group (REG), begin their title bids today.

The annual FIBA regional championship gets underway today at Uwanja wa Taifa indoor stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and will run through October 7.

The tournament is contested both in men and women’s categpries.

In the men’s category, the showpiece has attracted a total twelve teams namely; JKT and Oilers (Tanzania), Al-Ahly and Smouha (Egypt), KPA and Strathmore (Kenya), EWSA and Wolkite (Ethiopia), Patriots and REG (Rwanda), Cobra (South Sudan) and Burundi’s New Stars.

In a technical meeting that was held yesterday night, the twelve teams were drawn into two groups with Group A comprising of JKT, REG, Smouha, EWSA, KPA and Cobra, while Group B is composed of Patriots, Oilers, Al-Ahly, Wolkite, New Stars and Stathmore.

Rwanda’s debutants and former league champions REG start their group campaign against Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) in the second game of the day – starting at 12pm CAT.

REG will be aiming to make a memorable debut following their significant squad enforcements in which they will exploit services of foreign-based players including Kenneth Gasana, Hamza Ruhezamihigo, Dan Manzi and Stephen Shepherd.

The quartet joined a strong squad composed of experienced players such as Kami Kabange, Olivier Shyaka, Chris Walter Nkurunziza and Ali Kubwimana Kazingufu among others.

On the other hand, their local rivals and last year’s finalists Patriots take on Ethiopia’s Wolkite in their first fixture of the tournament. The game kicks-off at 6:30pm.

Following the withdrawal of holders City Oilers, from Uganda, who cited unpreparedness, Patriots have an upper hand on paper to conquer the East African region.

Boosting three players fresh from the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers in Lagos including skipper Aristide Mugabe, guard Sedar Sagamba and small forward Dieudonne Ndayisaba, and the addition of US-based Adonis Rwabigwi, Henry Mwinuka’s side making their third consecutive appearance will have a lot of experience in their back court.

The efficiency of forwards Michael Makiadi, Junior Songo and Steven Havugintwari will come in handy inside the paint if Patriots are to consider themselves title contenders.

Nonetheless, with the 2016 African champions Al Ahly and Smouha, from Egypt, taking part in the zonal competition, Patriots find themselves up against tough opposition with a lot of experience and squad depth.

The finalists of the week-long competition will automatically secure tickets for the 16-team FIBA AfroLeague, a newly introduced FIBA AfroLeague that will attract zonal winners and runners up from across Africa.

The inaugural edition is set to tip off in January 2019.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw 

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