04 October 2015

RWANDA : Espoir upbeat on winning second Zone V title

Espoir announced the final 12-man squad led by team captain Aristide Mugabe (left) for the week-long competition on Friday evening. (File)
Despite suffering an early exit last year, Espoir are upbeat on winning a second FIBA Africa Zone Five Club Championship title when this year’s edition kicks of today and runs through October 11 at Amahoro indoor stadium.
The opening game of the 21st edition of the annual regional tournament will pity Jean Bahufite’s Espoir against an opponent that was yet to be determined by press time. The technical meeting was supposed to sit last night at 8pm to make the draws.
The 2012 winners Espoir announced the final 12-man squad led by team captain Aristide Mugabe for the week-long competition on Friday evening and head coach Bahufite is confident his side can make good use of home advantage to claim the tournament for the second time in the club’s history.
“Hosting the tournament is a great chance for us to win it again, but also an good opportunity to make up for last year’s early exit. We are well prepared both physically and mentally, we will do everything possible for the title to stay home,” Bahufite told Sunday Sport.
When asked about which side he thinks is his team’s major threat, the 44-year old former national team assistant coach singled out Egypt’s Gezira, last year’s finalists KPA and City Oilers of Uganda but challenged his players to treat every game as a final.
In a separate interview, Cercle Sportif de Kigali (CSK) head coach Bob Ngoga emphasized that his men are fit and ready to challenge for the title, the first the club was formed in 2007.
Ngoga noted that, “The team is ready for the championships, the target is to go as far as we possibly can, we’ve had quality preparations for this competition and I strongly believe we are among top challengers for the title.”
In the women’s tourney, Rwanda will be represented by Charles Mushumba’s Ubumwe Basketball Club and the eight-time local league champions APR.
Speaking to this paper on Thursday, Mushumba said, “We have been training intensively for six weeks now, the players are on a good level and are determined to do the job. We want to make history of becoming the first Rwandan (women’s) club to win the competition.”
Meanwhile, reports in Bujumbura indicate that two-time reigning champions Urunani could miss the tournament due financial constraints however Rwanda Basketball Federation (FERWABA) secretary general Richard Mutabazi told Sunday Sport that there has been no official communication from the Burundian giants.
By press time, six teams namely Ulinzi, KPA (men) and USIU (women) from Kenya, City Oilers, Tiger Head Power (men) and KCCA (women) of Uganda as well as South Sudan’s National Engineering and Logistics (men) had arrived while Egypt’s Gezira, Dynamo of Burundi were being expected.
The two finalists in men’s category and champions of the female competition will earn tickets to the FIBA Africa Club Championships to be staged in Angola.
Espoir’s 12-man squad:
Aristide Mugabe (captain), Lionnel Hakizimana, Sankara Uwimana, Olivier Shyaka, Elie Kaje, Pascal Karekezi Rurangirwa, Edmond Mujyarugamba, Bruno Nyamwasa, Bienvenu Ngandu, Ally Kubwimana, Steven Havugintwari and Jean Louis Habineza.

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