Upbeat Gundo vows to steer Morans to continental tourney

National basketball team Morans forward Ronnie Gundo trains at Nyayo National Stadium indoor gymnasium on November 19, 2020 for Fiba Afrobasket qualifiers to be held in Kigali, Rwanda.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Gundo is the third professional player to jet into the country after Bosnia-based Preston Bungei and Ariel Okal, who plies his trade with US Setif of Algeria, who arrived in the country earlier
  • Head coach Cliff Owuor said he expects two more professionals to link up with the team in Nairobi on Friday- Desmond Owili, who is based in Australia and Denmark-based Tylor Ongwae
  • Team captain Eric Mutoro said one of their long term goals is to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games

Spain-based Ronnie Gundo has said that Kenya’s Moran will put in a dog’s fight come the AfroBasket qualifiers due from November 26 to 29 this year in Kigali.

Gundo, who is the latest professional player to arrive in the country ahead of the team’s departure on Sunday for the continental event, said that there will be no underdogs as such an event.

“For sure, it’s going to be a dog’s fight and we shall be in that mix. Every team is capable of qualifying and Morans know what they are capable of doing,” said the 28-year-old Gundo, who plays for Palencia in Spain though his one-year contract with the side has lapsed.

“I have only had one session with the team since arrival but I can tell you the players are ready,” said Gundo, who, however, rued the challenges posed by Covid-19.

“The mood in the team is not as it was during our last assignment but we shall reach the peak before our first match in Kigali,” explained Gundo.

Gundo is the third professional player to jet into the country after Bosnia-based Preston Bungei and Ariel Okal, who plies his trade with US Setif of Algeria, who arrived in the country earlier.

Kenya Morans Small forward Preston Bungei during their training session at the Nyayo National Stadium on November 14, 2020.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Gundo was speaking on Thursday at their Nyayo National Stadium training base upon receiving playing equipment worth Sh500,000 from the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K).

The consignment that was delivered by NOC-K senior vice president, Shadrack Maluki and acting secretary general, Francis Mutuku comprised playing kit, shoes, tracksuits, t-shirts and off court kits.

Head coach Cliff Owuor said he expects two more professionals to link up with the team in Nairobi on Friday- Desmond Owili, who is based in Australia and Denmark-based Tylor Ongwae.

Owuor is expected to name his final squad of 12 players on Saturday from his squad of 15 players.

“The professionals have blended well with the rest of the players. I was expecting Bungei to struggle with the altitude but he is doing well,” said Owuor, who hailed NOC-K’s gesture.

National basketball team Morans captain Eric Mutoro and Coach Cliff Owour (left) receive kits and bags from National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) senior Vice President Shadrack Maluki (right) and acting Secretary General Francis Mutuku (centre) at Nyayo National Stadium indoor gymnasium on November 19, 2020 where the team was training for Fiba Afrobasket qualifiers to be held in Kigali, Rwanda.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Team captain Eric Mutoro said one of their long term goals is to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

“This forms part of our journey and goals for the Olympics,” said Mutoro adding that his charges are charged for the qualifier. “We are cognisant of the weight we are carrying on our backs but we promise good results.”

“We believe that we shall be able to challenge these teams that have been there before like former champions Angola and Senegal,” said Owuor.

Angola, record champions

Morans face former champions Angola and Senegal in Group “B” that also has Mozambique. The qualifier has five groups where three top teams from each will qualify for the next year’s finals.

Kenya last took part in the finals in 1993 when Nairobi hosted the championship.

Angola have won the Afrobasket title a record 11 times, having also settled for silver four times and bronze two times. They won the diadem last in 2013 and lost in the quarter-finals to hosts Senegal during the previous edition in 2017.

Senegal, who have won the championship five times, settling for silver six times and bronze five times, eventually finished third behind winners Tunisia and Nigeria in 2017. Senegal last won the event in 1997.

Mozambique have consistently taken part in the Afrobasket competition in the last 10 editions.

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