15 October 2013

RWANDA : Champs Espoir target regional dominance

Espoir (in green) playing against Kenya's USIU during this year's Zone V championships in Bujumbura. Times Sport/ File

After winning the local basketball league title for the second consecutive season  without losing any game, Espoir coach Jean Bahufite has set himself a higher target to make his team the best in the region and among the best on the continente.
“Now my focus is to try to be the dominant team in the region and to be a regular at the African level. We need to take this home form to the Zone V and it’s my duty as the coach to prepare the players to aim for high targets,” he told Times Sport on Monday.
He noted that although the team has been consistence in the local league, the players still need to aim higher and this includes becoming the top team in the Zone V region because the players are capable of doing that.
 “It will take us time to become a top team in Africa but we can be the top team in the region. We have very good talented and young Rwandan players, who just need more training and exposure at the big stage to become top players capable of challenging among the best on the continent,” added.
The Rwandan champions failed to defend their Zone V title after falling to Burundi’s Urunani in the final 65-56 in Bujumbura in August.
Espoir set a new record of finishing the local league for a second successive season with an unbeaten run after beating Rusizi 83-37 on Sunday.
Point guard Lionel Hakizikimana led the 2012 Zone V champions’ charge with a game high 17 points; forward Allen Christian Barutanayo added 15 points, while last year’s Most Valuable Player Aristide Mugabe and Pascal Karekezi added 13 points apiece.
The team will get their regular season league trophy after the Playoffs tournament, which will be contested by the top four teams which include; the champions Espoir, KBC, Rusizi and either UGB or APR.

UGB currently occupy the fourth spot with 17 points, two ahead of APR, who still have one game to play against bottom side, 30-Plus on Sunday. A win for APR would give them 17 points and then mathematics will come into play to decide the team that takes fourth place.

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