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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Kenya Morans hit Angola to qualify for Afrobasket


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Tylor Ongwae made a jump shot with three seconds to the buzzer as Kenya Morans shocked Angola 74-73 to qualify for the 2021 Afrobasket tournament for the first time in 28 years.

The historic win, which Morans fought to the last second for victory, means Kenya cannot finish below third place in Group B of the Afrobasket qualifiers which are being held at the Palais Polyvalent des Sports Complex here in Yaounde. 

Ongwae, who had a brilliant game efficiency of +18, led the Kenyans with 16 points. Alexandre Jungo top-scored for Angola with 19. Ongwae also contributed a game-high five steals and five assists.

The nail-biting contest exploded in the third quarter for the Kenyans, who were trailing 39-28 at half time, went on a 25-17 run to ensure they go for the last quarter three points down at 56-53.

It is in the fourth quarter where Mills’ charges held their own against the much-fancied Angolans. First, Mills rested Victor Ochieng for Ongwae, who made a 2-point jump shot with 08:26 to bring the scores at 56-55, then Joel Awich, who missed the opener against Senegal because he was in isolation, made another jumper for a 57-56 lead for Kenya.

Angola’s Jerson Gonclaves drew a foul from which Jone Lopes Pedro dunked for a 58-57 lead for the Angolans. The Kenyans just refused to go away.

With 07:07 on the clock, Mills then threw in Bush Wamukota for Ariel Okall, then Ronald Gombe – who led the game with two blocks – made a foul which saw the Angolans get to the line with 06:48.

Carlos Morais made both, and Awich gave way for Joseph Khaemba – the other Kenyan who didn’t feature against Senegal due what the officials called a Covid-19 scare.

Wamukota then took over the match between 05:50 and 04:28 where he scored seven points to give Kenya a 64-60 lead.

Awich, now back in the fold for Gombe, drew a foul and made one of the two free throws, before setting up Preston Bungei who passed it to Ongwae for a step back 3-pointer as Kenya widened their lead to 68-60.

Angola would then go on a 5-2 run, before Bungei made a layup for 72-70 late on. Jungo then made a 3-point shot with 00:28 to go, before Ongwae rescued the Kenyans at the buzzer, to send the Kenyan contingent in the arena into a frenzy.

This was Kenya’s first ever win over Angola in competitive basketball.

“This one one of my happiest moment in my basketball coaching career. I watched Angola play against Mozambique and took crucial notes which came in handy as the boys played according to instructions,” said Mills, who praised all her players for turning up for the game when it mattered most said.

As was the case on Friday when they lost 69-51 to Senegal in the opening match of the qualifiers, the Morans started the match against Angola sluggishly, and found themselves 22-9 at the end of the first quarter.

Kenya play Mozambique on Sunday in their final Group B of the second round of the qualifiers, where coach Mills might opt to rotate his squad as the Kenyans have already made it to the Afrobasket tournament set for August this year in Kigali, Rwanda.

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