The National Under-18 Boys’ Basketball Team head coach Yves Murenzi has admitted his side still have areas of concern to be worked on if they are to make an impact at the forthcoming 19th FIBA Africa Basketball Under-18 Championship.
The biennial continental showpiece in boys’ category will be hosted in Bamako, Mali from August 17 to 26 for men while the Mozambique will host the ladies championship finals from July 29 to August 5 in the country’s capital – Bamako.
Rwanda will represent FIBA Africa Zone V in both categories following victorious campaigns at this year’s edition that concluded last week in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
In the boys’ category, Rwanda recorded a five-game unbeaten run to clinch the title. They opened their title hunt with a resounding 86-44 win over Sudan before thumping Tanzania 85-45 and Uganda 76-61 to progress to the semifinals as leaders.
In the semi-finals, Rwanda humiliated Tanzania 64-24 to set a final tie with Uganda which had defeated Sudan in semis. Rwanda effortlessly thrashed Uganda 84-50 to lift the title.
Nonetheless, Murenzi has admitted that his side must sharpen up especially defensively and physical fitness if they are to improve on last edition’s performance in 2016 hosted in Kigali, in which the team recorded their best ever performance to reaching the round of last eight.
“The team is really promising, having been together since 2016 is also advantageous. The team spirit is high and you can observe the connection among the players on the court, but, we have areas we must improve if we are to make a good impact at on continental scene,” said Murenzi in an exclusive interview with Times Sport on Wednesday.
“We are still shaky in the defense and some improvement also needs to be realized in terms of physical fitness of players. We actually defeated teams at Zone V because of our quick and tactical game but we were outcompeted mostly in terms of physical strength. At Afrobasket, all teams are well equipped both tactically and physically. We must prepare accordingly,” he added
According to Murenzi, the players have been allowed to take a one-week break after which they will resume non-residential training that will involve a number of friendly games.
The finalists of this year’s Afro-basket finals will automatically book tickets to represent Africa at the 2019 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup.