Espoir’s captain Aristide Mugabe
Kigali Basketball Club and reigning national league champions, Espoir meet over the weekend in men’s final series of the Play-offs at Amahoro stadium this weekend.
Unbeaten in the domestic league for two years in all competitions, Espoir are the favourites ahead of this highly anticipated game but will it be a one-sided encounter or can the former champions cause an upset against Espoir and actually win the best-of-five series? That question can only be answered by time.
Games one, two and three will be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and should either team fail to win a single game then the champion will be crowned on Sunday evening with the full responsibility of representing Rwanda at the annual Zone V Club championship that is expected to be hosted in Nairobi, Kenya.
KBC’s head coach Cyrille Karima said, “Playing against Espoir is always a tough challenge but we are ready to play and we shall try to win. For sure, it is not going to be easy.”
Karima will be relying on the experience of the Buzangu brothers – Mike and Patrick as well as Sankara Uwimana to lead his back court and attack Espoir but most importantly convert and make it count in the paint lest a repeat of the regular season games in mediocre play fail the former champions.
On the other hand, Espoir’s head coach Jean Bahufite will be hoping to maintain the status quo. In Captain Aristide Mugabe, returnee Jean Louis Habineza, Lionel Hakizimana and Pascal Rurangirwa, Espoir has a very lethal back court if statistics in the regular season are anything to go by.
In Olivier Shyaka, Bienvenue Ngandu and Olivier Muhizi, Espoir have a trio that can dominate the boards on any day and punish the opponent for any mistakes and with their physical presence in the paint, Espoir are the pre-finals favourite but well that is just on paper.
Mugabe said, “We want to win these three games. We have been here before and we know exactly what to do. We listen to what our coach tells us and with that we shall win comfortably.”
Meanwhile, military side APR will face Rusizi in the third position playoff at 4pm while APR women’s basketball team will take on RAP in the women’s final at 6pm before KBC plays against Espoir at 8pm.