The second round of the qualifiers for 2021 FIBA AfroBasket are set to resume in under three months.
With the exception of Group C (Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea) who played their first round in February, the other three qualifying groups (A, B, D & E) will play their first round games late November.
Among the teams in Group B is Kenya who breezed through the first phase of the qualifiers that had Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania that they hosted.
The Morans – Kenya men’s national basketball team – now have to navigate their way in the group that also has continental giants Angola and Senegal as well as Mozambique to be part of the sixteen-team AfroBasket in August 2021.
Ariel Okall, who is expected to be part of Kenya’s team for the qualifiers, knows the job at hand is tough.
“The group is tight. It will be one of the toughest hurdles we have encountered yet. Angola have done it. You don’t just wake up and beat them, you have to prepare well in order to achieve the set goal,” Okall told FIBA.Basketball.
“Senegal have also been there and performed well and they have great players on various leagues. The same goes to Mozambique. These teams have an edge over us in terms of experience and maybe structures,” he added.
The 6’9 forward, however, believes they have a few things in their favour and the team should be able to qualify.
“We have a great personnel and team chemistry we cannot underrate that. The cohesiveness in the team is what makes us thrive. If we look at our last performances we had tough wins and tough losses too.
“As much as the task is hard, we shouldn’t have excuses. We should be able to compete and play great basketball and make it to Kigali in 2021.”
Okall who signed with Algerian side Union Sportive Setif early this year and later agreeing to join seven-time Ugandan champions City Oilers is concerned about players fitness and says preps for the qualifiers should start.
“As an athlete my worry right now is players’ fitness and how bad the COVID-19 pandemic has affected us. We will have to start slow because of injuries.
“We need to be in the gym. We need to start working towards that AfroBasket dream,” said the 30-year-old.
The four team event is slated to take place in Dakar, Senegal but could also be played in Kigali Rwanda on the request of FIBA Africa.