Home Sports We Are Well Prepared – APR Basketball Club Ahead of BAL

We Are Well Prepared – APR Basketball Club Ahead of BAL

by Annet Mugabo
2:57 pm

APR during a training session

 APR Basketball Club, representing Rwanda in the 2024 edition of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), is gearing up to make a difference in its debut in the Sahara Conference.

The club has fortified its roster by signing two NBA G-League players in preparation for the challenging tournament scheduled to be held in Dakar, Senegal from May 4 through 12.

Mazen Trakh, a seasoned coach and Detroit Pistons coach, has assumed the role of head coach for APR Basketball Club, succeeding Kenyan Coach Cliff Owuor. Trakh, a 60-year-old American with extensive experience, expressed satisfaction with the support provided by the team and its readiness for the BAL.

He emphasized the importance of versatile players who can contribute both defensively and offensively to ensure the team’s success in the highly competitive league.

The coach is conscious that BAL is a business of good teams. 

“It’s evident that all teams are exceptionally competitive. Since December, we have put in tremendous effort. Our journey took us to Qatar, where we faced formidable basketball clubs. Upon returning to Rwanda, we encountered Al Etihad of Egypt, one of Africa’s premier basketball teams, as well as Central Africa, boasting three talented American players,” he said.

“Despite the challenges, we emerged victorious in some matches. Our rigorous preparation against strong opponents fills us with confidence as we head to Senegal.”

The coach, said he is fortunate to work alongside two NBA coaches.

“Together, we bring 40 years of experience to the table. With such a wealth of knowledge, I’m confident in our ability to prepare both offensively and tactically for our matches,” he further said. 

Point guard Nshobozwabyosenumukiza Jean, who will be participating in his fourth BAL, affirmed the team’s preparedness and highlighted the improvements made in comparison to previous editions.

He acknowledged APR’s dedication to preparation and commended the coaching staff for their efforts in instilling a winning mentality among the players.

“We are well-prepared for the tournament, thanks to the support of APR, who have provided us with everything we need to be ready for the BAL. As a seasoned player in this tournament, I am aware of the areas where I need to improve in order to contribute to my team’s best performance,” Nshobozwabyosenumukiza said.

“Over the years, Rwanda has participated in the BAL, and this time, we are determined to make significant strides. I urge all APR fans to support us by following our games on the team’s platform. We are committed to making them proud, and this time, we have no excuses.”

One of APR’s new acquisitions, Noel Obadiah, a 24-year-old high-scoring guard, expressed his excitement about playing in Africa for the first time.

He shared his determination to contribute to APR’s success and emphasized his versatility as a player capable of making an impact on both ends of the court.

“I believe this versatility is one of my strengths and adds value to the team. Ultimately, my goal, as well as the team’s goal, is to win the BAL. That’s why I’m fully committed to doing whatever it takes to help our team succeed,” he said. 

“I have never had the opportunity to visit Africa before, so being here with APR is an exciting new experience for me. My coaches have spoken highly of APR, and I saw this as a chance to grow as a player,” he said adding that he is getting a new experience in Rwanda. 

The new player can already tell the difference from his own team. He said that whereas in the G-League, it’s often about playing at a faster pace, there is attention to detail in APR.

“It’s a new challenge that I embrace. My teammates and coaches have been incredibly supportive, which has made the transition smoother for me,” he said.

“Regardless of our opponent, my mindset is always to compete at the highest level. That’s why we push ourselves so hard in practice, preparing for every upcoming game.”

In addition to Noel, APR has also added Abdullah Ahmed, a 21-year-old Egyptian center, to its roster. Ahmed, known for his prowess in the paint, is expected to bolster APR’s strength both offensively and defensively.

APR’s Secretary-General Eric Kalisa Salongo, acknowledged the challenges faced in recruiting players due to conflicts with the NBA calendar.

However, he expressed confidence in the team’s abilities and thanked stakeholders for their support in the team’s preparations for the Sahara Conference.

Challenges were to get the best players because the moment we needed them many of them had contracts with their teams. Our objective is clear from the management, the coaches and to all players is to win our games so that we can qualify for the playoffs here,” he said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Rwanda Defense Force, Ministry of Sports and Visit Rwanda for giving us the support we needed.”

The Sahara Conference, scheduled to take place from May 4 to May 12 in Dakar – Senegal, will see APR compete against formidable opponents such as US Monastir (Tunisia), Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria), and AS Douanes (Senegal).

With the goal of securing a playoff berth, APR is determined to make a strong impression in its inaugural BAL campaign.

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