NAIROBI, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's men's basketball team head coach Cliff Owuor is hopeful his side will weather the storm and emerge the winners from the Africa Zone Five Afrobasket tournament.
The six-nation competition will be staged in Nairobi from January 14 to 19 with the top team joining the other five zones winners progressing to the next stage of the qualification. They will then join the 15 teams that took part in the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 in Senegal and Tunisia.
Egypt, Uganda and Rwanda, the other Zone Five nations, got direct tickets to the qualifiers by virtue of participating in the last Afro basket championships. It means Kenya will now have to battle with Burundi, Tanzania, Eritrea, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia for the Afrobasket pre-qualifiers
"Kenya has gained a lot in the last three years and we will be looking forward to a tough competition for us. I also have three top players missing. They are Denmark based Tyler Okari, forward James Mwangi and Spain-based center Ronnie Gundo. All the three were possible starters having played a pivotal role in our qualification process, but we have to adjust very quickly and have their positions covered," said Owuor in Nairobi on Monday.
Coach Owuor has since recalled France-based forward Robert Nyakundi, Mike Makiadi who plies his trade in Rwanda, Victor Bosire and Griffin Ligare to replace the trio in camp.
The championship will be the first high profile basketball tournament to be held in Kenya since 1993 when the country hosted the African championships.
The 15 teams that have secured passage to the second round include champions Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia and Uganda.
Winner of the Zone Five competition will join Senegal, Angola and Mozambique in Group B of the AfroBasket competition. Enditem