RWANDA’S center forward Kami Kabangu defied odds to win the men’s playoffs Most Valuable Player [MVP] in the 2013 Uganda basketball awards over the weekend.
The Congolese-born Rwandan big man received a near-unanimous standing ovation from the fraternity at the glamorous event held at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.
No one had doubts about who deserved to win the most prestigious award in any basketball culture as Kabangu led City Oilers to a 4-3 final series victory over Falcons and averaging a personal 18.4 points and 10.5 rebounds through the series.
He carried the team on his shoulders, picking rebounds, sinking crucial points in the paint as well as terrorising teams on the charity line.
In his first year, the dynamic big man led the Oilers to their best season since coincidently their first in the championship.
Speaking to the press, Kabangu said, “It’s good to win this but importantly the team won in its first season in the national league,”
Kabangu beat Jimmy Enabu (Oilers) Brian odour (Ndejje Angels), Ben Komakech (Dmark Power and Phillip Amenyi (Falcons) to the award.
Beyond Kabangu and the obvious awards like top scorer, which he also took, the rest was littered with arguments including Peace Proscovia’s rather expected women’s playoffs MVP gong.
Kabangu is set to join Moroccan side AS Mira Cost for an undisclosed fee that will see his current side City Oil of Uganda earn thousands of US dollars in transfer payment.
This season, he will depart Kampala for AS Mira Cost following the conclusion of the playoffs season in Uganda. He will be earning not less than $3500 per month and this fee does not include match winning bonuses and allowances.
The 30-year old moved to Uganda at the beginning of this year having featured for the reigning league champions in Rwanda, Espoir whom he guided to the 2012 domestic league title as well as the Zone V club trophy last year at the competition that was held in Kampala.
Kabangu played the most minutes – 191 at the 2013 Afrobasket championship that was held in Ivory Coast in August where Rwanda finished in 10th position.
This means that he played the highest average time per game 38.2 minutes, more than any other player from the 16 teams that took part in the continental event.
Kabangu picked a total of 49 rebounds in five games to finish third on the final standings of most rebounds at the tournament behind Egypt’s Assem Marei who picked 81 rebounds in seven games and Nigeria’s Ike Diogu who picked 72 rebounds in seven games.
His brilliant performance at this tournament saw many African clubs approaching him and after passing trials at AS Mira Cost, the rest is history. In Morocco, he will join fellow national team player Kenneth Gasana who features for Charab Hoaciem.
The player has won national league titles with Lubumbashi Sport (2003-2006), Mazembe (2007), APR (2008-2011) and Espoir (2012)
This means that for the last one decade, Kabangu has been a national league champion and what better way to be rewarded than to play professional basketball in a North African club, a feat no other Rwandan has achieved.