Karim Aime Nkusi, APR BBC headcoach has said his team is in the right path to win the trophy after having won two of the three games they have played in the 2017/18 national basketball league.
APR defeated Espoir 62-57 in the FERWABA national basketball league match day staged at Amahoro Indoor Stadium on Friday night on December 22, 2017.
It was the second win in three games for the rejuvenated APR BBC while Espoir lost the third game in four.
Former champions APR BBC played Nyamirambo-based Espoir Basketball Club in a game considered as the clash of the day due to the history of both teams in the Rwandan hoops league.
APR Basketball Club and Espoir Basketball Club won most league cups in Rwanda, APR having been champions for seven times while Espoir were champions five times.
They are the only Rwandan clubs to have won the FIBA Africa Zone 5 championships. APR has won the regional competition three times, in 2003, 2007 and 2010 while Espoir won it in 2012.
However, recently, both teams have had a sturdy competition by Patriots BBC who started competing in the Rwandan basketball league in 2015 to be league champions in 2016 and the newly introduced Rwanda Energy Group (REG) Basketball Club who have won the league in 2016/17 campaigns.
Back at Amahoro Indoor Stadium, APR BBC led the first quarter of the game as they scored 13 to 11 in favour of Espoir who also came from behind to win the second quarter having 19 while APR secured 17points.
Karim Nkusi’s men greatly dominated the third quarter by winning it on a 15 points difference as it ended APR having secured 24 while Mwiseneza’s Espoir managed to get only nine points.
The last quarter was won by Espoir who scored 18 points to eight of APR who finished the game with 62 to 57.
Despite the defeat, Espoir’s players Emile Kazeneza and Pascal Niyonkuru were top scorers of the game as they scored 15 and 14 points respectively. APR’s Jean de Dieu Ntagunduka scored 12 points.
Talking to the media after the game, APR Basketball Club headcoach Karim Aime Nkusi said his team is on the right way to win the league trophy of this campaign.
He said, “We are still in the race to win the league cup and so are the other teams including Espoir, Patriots, IPRC Kigali, IPRC South and REG BBC though for them [REG] they have won all their games”.
“In three games we have played, we won two and lost to one to REG [league defenders], so, I can say we have done a good job so far and if we continue winning like this, I think we will be champions, God helping,” he added.
On the other hand, his counterpart, Espoir coach, Maxime Mwiseneza attributed the defeat to APR to the mental unreadiness of his players.
“My players were not mentally ready. It seemed as if we played on pressure of which reason I don’t know. We lose so many balls to opponents, if a player [of Espoir] runs with a ball and passes it to the adversary, we still have a big problem,” he said.
Losing key players to rivals
Espoir BBC’s coach Maxime Mwiseneza also highlighted the fact that his team has become as a “training place” for the biggest rival teams in Rwanda, as a reason behind three defeats they have seen, in four games, during the national league 2017/18.
When Patriots BBC started playing the national basketball league in 2015, they bought two of the best players of Espoir BBC including Aristide Mugabe, Rwanda’s national basketball team captain and Elie Kaje, the national team player who joined REG BBC this year.
This year, REG BBC bought two players from Espoir BBC namely Olivier Shyaka who was their [Espoir] captain and Wilson Nshobozwanumukiza.
“It is not easy these days. Five years ago, We, Espoir, lost many players. When Patriots came in the league, they took our [best] players, when we had rebuilt ourselvels, REG came and took others, and APR took others. We use new players, who are young with no experience. But, we hope to perform well in the coming days but it is obvious, we have a big and serious problem”, explained sad Mwiseneza.
Before APR BBC beat Espoir on Friday, defending champions REG Basketball Club had beat United Generation Basketball (UGB) 126-81 as REG’s Kami Kabange topped individual scores with 30 points in the game. REG who are undefeated in four games lead the table with eight points