03 October 2015

RWANDA : FIBA Zone V: A test for local basketball

While APR men's basketball club have won three Zone V titles, their female counterparts (above) are seeking their first. (S. Ngendahimana)

With two days to the start of the 21st FIBA Africa Zone Five Club Championships in Kigali, should Rwandans expect the titles to remain home as the country hosts the tourney in it’s back yard?
Returning to Rwanda for the first time since the 13th edition in 2007, this year’s regional club championship is scheduled for October 4-11 at Amahoro indoor stadium.
As hosts, Rwanda will field four teams; two in each gender. The clubs include; 2012 champions Espoir and former semi-finalists CSK (men) as well as APR and debutants Ubumwe in the women’s category.
In an interview with Times Sport, the Rwanda Basketball Federation (FEWRABA) secretary general Richard Mutabazi said they expect the home teams to do well, since they had enough preparations, on top of the home advantage.
Last year in Mombasa, Kenya, Rwandan representatives Espoir (men) and APR (women) performed poorly. Both sides were knocked out at the group stages.
Little-known on regional scene, APR would be excused because no one expected much from them anyway, but what came as a shock was the dismal showing by four-time reigning Rwandan champions, Espoir, who entered the competition among the favourites.
Jean Bahufite’s team won the competition in 2012 in Kampala after defeating Burundi’s Urunani in the final before the Burundians avenged for that defeat in the 2013 final in Bujumbura.
The year 2014 was not the best for the Rwanda senior men’s national team, after they lost 69-61 to hosts Uganda for a deciding qualifier to the 2015 African Basketball Championships held in Tunisia. It was the first time since 2007 that Rwanda missed out of the men’s Afro-Basket.
Though it remains to be seen in Zone Five history, for a Rwandan women’s club to reach at least the final, both Ubumwe and APR have pledged to battle hard as they seek to write a new chapter in the competition’s history.
While Cercle Sportif de Kigali (CSK) is fighting to win the men’s title for the first time, Espoir will also look to bounce from last year’s woes to claim the title for their second time in club’s history.
APR are Rwanda’s most successful men’s club in the competition, having won three titles in 2002, 2007 and 2008.
Initially founded as the East Central and Southern Africa Confederation, the inaugural edition was held in 1995 in Harare, Zimbabwe and only attracted clubs from Kenya and Zimbabwe.
The event gradually grew in strength and in 2000, the confederation organized its first ever nations cup in Mahe, Seychelles.
In 2006, FIBA Africa decided to join forces with the administration of East, Central and Southern Africa to bring all activities under the FIBA Africa Zone Five to further spread the game and enhance the level of competitiveness.
The Zone Five Championship is contested by winners and first runners-up from basketball leagues of member states namely; Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and Southern Sudan.
Past Winners since 2000
2000: Falcons (Men), Ogopa (Women)
2001: Vijana (Men), KPA (Women)
2002: APR (Men), KPA (Women)
2003: Ulinzi (Men), JKT E/AFRICA (Women)
2004: Postbank (Men) Lady Bucks (Women)
2005: KCB (Men), Storms (Women)
2006: KCB (Men), KPA (Women)
2007: APR (Men), KPA (Women)
2008: APR (Men), KPA (Women)
2009: Coop (Men), KPA (Women)
2010: Coop (Men), Eagle Wings (Women)
2011: Urunani (Men), KPA (Women)
2012: Espoir (Men), Eagle Wings (Women)
2013: Urunani (Men), Eagle Wings (Women)
2014: Urunani (Men), USIU (Women)
2015: ???

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