Rwanda head coach Moise Mutokambali has announced a 12-man final list ahead of their opening match against hosts Mali in the first-leg of Group B of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers due in Bamako on Friday, this week.
Rwanda grouped alongside regional arch-rivals Uganda, hosts Mali and Nigeria will start the campaign against Mali on Feb. 23, face Nigeria the next day and conclude their group game against Uganda onFeb. 25.
Mutokambali named the squad on Monday after his side edged a local select team in two matches played over the weekend.
In the first game played on Saturday, Rwanda Hoops team edged the local select side 81-53 with Kami Kabange scoring 15 points, Shyaka Olivier scored 13 while Ruhezamihigo Hamza netted 11 points respectively.
In the second game played on Sunday, Rwanda Hoops team defeated the select side 82-78 with Kami baggng 20 points, Shyaka Olivier scored 14 points, Mugabe Aristide scored 13 points while Ruhezamihigo and Nkurunziza Walter scored 12 and 11 points each.
Mutokambali include the core of the experienced national team players who have been with the team in the past competitiove editions in the final squad with known names such as Olivier Shyaka (REG BC) and Kami Kabange Milambwe (REG BC)- who helped Rwanda to a 1-2 mark at FIBA AfroBasket 2017.
Others are; Mugabe Aristide (Patriots BC), Kaje Elie (REG BBC), Ruhezamihigo Hamza (Concordia-Canada), and Gasana Kenneth (Morocco) among others.
New faces in the final squad include; Ndoli Jean Paul (IPRC-Kigali) and Niyonsaba Bienvenu (IPRC-South BC).
Speaking to the press on Sunday, Mutokambali said, “Our target is to finish atop of our group and by doing so, we have to win all our matches and wait to see what happens in the next qualifying round due in June this year,”
Besides Mali and Uganda, Nigeria’s D’Tigers will be a tough team to beat because they have cemented their continental status as the heavyweights taking the latest rankings into consideration. Globally they are placed 32nd. The Nigerian team will look to big names like Ike Diogu, Ikechukwu Nwamu and Bryant Mbamalu.
The African qualifiers consist of 12 tournaments played across six windows. The first round sees four groups of four teams each. Teams face each other in two legs.
Top three teams from each group advance to the second round, where the 12 qualified teams are divided in two groups (E and F) of 6 teams each.
The top two teams from groups E and F and the best third-ranked team will secure their tickets for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, which will be played in China.
Rwanda’s final squad for FIBA-Africa Qualifiers named
Players: Mugabe Aristide (Patriots BC), Kubwimana Kazingufu Ali (REG BC), Nkurunziza Chris Walter (REG BC), Ndayisaba Ndizeye Dieudonne (Patriots BC), Niyonkuru Pascal (Espoir BC), Kaje Elie (REG BBC), Kami Kabange Milambwe (REG BC), Ruhezamihigo Hamza (Concordia-Canada), Niyonsaba Bienvenu (IPRC-South BC), Shyaka Olivier (REG BC), Ndoli Jean Paul (IPRC-Kigali) and Gasana Kenneth (Morocco)
Coaching Staff: Mutokambali Moise (Head Coach), Nkusi Aime Karim (1st Assistant Coach), Mwiseneza Maxime (2nd Assistant Coach), Mwambali Serge (Physical Trainer), Uwimana Martin (Team Physio), Muhawenimana Emmanuel (Team Doctor) and Shema Butera Valentin (Team Manager).
Mali vs Rwanda
Nigeria vs Rwanda
Rwanda vs Uganda