NAIROBI, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Kenya basketball team hopes to use its underdog status to stage a surprise win of the FIBA Africa championships, which starts in Bamako, Mali on Saturday.
Head coach Cliff Owuor believes Kenya has the capacity to be among the top four teams, who will book tickets to the AfroBasket in 2020.
A total of 12 nations from all corners of Africa are set to start a battle in an attempt to capture the title of the inaugural edition of the FIBA AfroCan, also known as the FIBA Africa championships that run between July 20 and 28.
The inaugural edition of the tournament will bring Nigeria, Angola, Tunisia, Kenya, Egypt, Algeria, DR Congo, Guinea, Morocco, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire and Mali. The twelve teams are divided into four groups of three.
It will be the first time Kenya is taking on the continent's bigwigs since 1993 in an event hosted in Nairobi. Kenya finished fourth in the 12-team event.
"I am upbeat about this team. It is a great squad of young players keen to make their name on the continental stage and earn some respect, if not lucrative contracts with European and USA teams," said Owuor on Friday.
Kenya will face Nigeria and DR Congo in Group B of the AfroCan game.
Being a new competition with new players and coaching staff involved, it's hard to predict the favorites, though hosts Mali and Morocco hold an upper hand to win the FIBA AfroCan 2019 championship.
Kenya qualified for the AfroCan Championship after beating Egypt 97-79 during the recently concluded qualifiers in Uganda.