Kenya Morans jetted out of the country last week on Wednesday with a goal of leaving a mark during their debut at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal.
After a stellar performance and groundbreaking achievements the national basketball team has been making since 2019 (winning silver in AfroCan and qualifying for the AfroBasket after a 28-year hiatus last year), many believed in scaling to higher grounds, yet again.
However, a poor three-day show at the magnificent Dakar Arena leaves Morans with a huge mountain to climb after Kenya lost all their three Group D matches.
Pooled against hosts Senegal, Egypt and Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya needed at win least one match in the first round to stand a chance of qualifying for the second round of the African qualifiers.
On Friday, Morans begun their assignment with a 66-56 defeat to DR Congo in a match the East Africans showed some glimpse of hope with top plays and never-die spirit witnessed during the AfroBasket qualifiers.
Their next two matches were a disaster after they lost 105-51 and 100-55 to Egypt and Senegal respectively on Saturday and Sunday. The three defeats leaves them bottom of Group d with three points.
The Pharaohs and the West Africans dominated the paint from tip off and forced Kenya into contact fouls, an area Morans captain griffin Ligare said was their major undoing.
Morans shocked fans after travelling without a recognised centre with both Tom ‘Bush’ Wamukota, Desmond Owili and Ronnie Gundo missing in the team list.
The trio was all part of the team that played at the AfroBasket championship in Rwanda last year.
Speaking after their last match against Senegal, Ligare said missing their big guys gave their opponents more advantage.
“We gave our all despite not winning any match in Dakar. Our opponents dominated the paint. That is where the problem was, but I trust we still have a way back,” said Ligare.
Returning Morans’ coach Cliff Owuor believes Kenya are not out of contention yet, with three more games left to play during the second round in July.
“We still have a chance. We have a high mountain to climb but losing three games doesn’t mean we are out. If we win two or three, we are back on track. We are not going to throw in the towel early. I believe we have a chance,” said Owuor.
“Poor preparations contributed to poor show. We need to prepare much better. We still have a chance,” said Owuor.