Rwanda senior men’s national basketball team gets on the court this evening in a hunt for a 2019 FIBA World Cup ticket as the second window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers gets underway today in Lagos, Nigeria.
Rwanda, the lone East African side in the tournament, who emerged as one of the three teams to advance to the 12-team Second Round takes on Senegal, who finished second place in Group F.
The Rwanda hoops captain Aristide Mugabe said heading into the second window qualifiers that, “Now that Rwanda is in the [group f] qualifiers with five others – Senegal, cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Nigeria and Mali, I must admit that the level of competition is higher. We will need to work twice or thrice as harder than we did back in June-July. Getting a World Cup ticket is a possibility for Rwanda.”
But Rwanda captain Aristide Mugabe – who currently plays for local side Patriots BBC added, “We have told ourselves that we would come back and endeavour to win at least two games. We know it is going to be hard to pick two games but we were ready to do whatever was necessary to qualify.”
Rwanda beat Mali and Uganda to finish second in the group behind Nigeria.
Reflecting on one of most recent Rwanda’s success, Mugabe revealed that the team’s mindset before they left for Lagos was ‘Let’s give our all best and together we can make it happen, and “we did it.”
Mugabe played all six Rwanda games in the First Round, averaging a team-high 3.7 assists in 20 minutes per game. He attributes the landmark achievement to the adjustment the team made before leaving Rwanda.
Mugabe has helped his country win the 2011 edition of the FIBA Africa Zone 5 Championship and was part of the team that finished runners-up in the regional tournament two years later.
Rwanda who lost to Nigeria 77-89 in a warm-up match mid this week takes on Senegal at 18:30 at the Indoor Sports Hall in Lagos.
On Saturday, Rwanda will be up against Ivory Coast before wrapping up the second round, fourth window, games against CAR on Sunday.
The top two teams from groups E and F and the best third-ranked team will secure their tickets for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.
After the first round results, Nigeria lead Group F with 12 points followed by Senegal with 11 points, while Central African Republic and Rwanda complete top four with nine points each.
Cote d’Ivoire and Mali are fifth and sixth respectively, with eight points apiece.
The inaugural 32-team edition of FIBA’s flagship competition will take place from August 31-September 15, 2019 in China.
FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers
Friday, September 14, 2018
Central Africa Republic vs Mali, 16:00
Angola vs Cameroon, 16:30
Senegal vs Rwanda, 18:30
Morocco vs Tunisia, 19:00
Cote d’Ivoire vs Nigeria, 21:00
Egypt vs Chad, 21:30