Kenya lionesses set to start their FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers

Lionesses ready to roar.

Kenya will battle favourites Egypt and also the reigning champions, debutants South Sudan as well as host Rwanda and Burundi for the sole ticket to the regional festival. Image courtesy: FIBA AfroBasket.

The Kenya national women's basketball team will today take part in their first match of the 27th edition of FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Lionesses will be up against hosts, Rwanda at the recently constructed Kigali Arena, the biggest indoor arena in East Africa.

The team arrived on Saturday, July 10 and will go into the four-team qualifiers well aware that only the winners will book the sole ticket to the 2021 FIBA Afro-Basket tournament set for Yaounde, Cameroon on September 17-26.

Kenya will be up against three teams at the Zone 5 qualifiers after Uganda withdrew from the tourney citing lack of funds.

The three nations include, two-time champions Egypt, debutants South Sudan and hosts Rwanda. So far, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Mozambique have booked their tickets to Cameroon.

Kenya will be seeking to earn her 7th appearance at the continental finals. The Lionesses best finish at the biennial championship came in 1997 when they finished fourth as hosts.

The inaugural FIBA Women’s AfroBasket was held in Guinea in 1966 when Egypt finished top of the podium after beating the host nation in the final.

Senegal have captured the crown in 12 of the 26 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket editions. They are followed by current defending champions, Nigeria with four titles. DR Congo formerly Zaire have three titles in their cabinet while Angola and Egypt are two-time champions.

INTERNATIONAL BASED PLAYERS

This year, the Kenya team will be boosted by the presence of foreign-based players. The players include; Rwanda-based Georgia Odhiambo, Spain-based Mercy Wanyama and the US-based trio of Victoria Wanjara, Brenda Wasuda and Felmas Koranga.

Koranga, a Troy University forward became the first Kenyan born athlete to play Division one basketball in the United States of America (USA).

During her junior year, Koranga saw progress on and off the court. She was named the Sun Belt’s Newcomer of the Year and earned All-Sun Belt Second Team honours.

Koranga was also one of only two players in the Sun Belt Conference to average a double-double with 12.8 points per game (ppg) and 11.1 rebounds per game (rpg). She is ranked 27th nationally for the most double-doubles.

She is also ranked seventh nationally in offensive rebounds per game, 20th in rebounds per game and 22nd in total rebounds.

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