In Kigali, Rwanda
With centre Bush Wamukota already ruled out of the championship after testing positive for Covid-19 while on an invitational tournament in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Kenyan camp was o Wednesday notified that Preston Kiprono Bungei would be dropped due to documentation issues ahead of their showdown with Senegal.
But point guard and captain Griffin Ligare, who was left behind, is expected in Rwanda for the event though he is definitely out of the opener against Senegal because he must go into a one-day quarantine awaiting his Covid-19 test results.
Bungei, who was expected to play a pivotal role as Kenya chases one of the three available tickets for next year’s Afro basketball finals, was not cleared by Fiba Africa, organisers of this event who insist he must produce a permanent Kenyan passport.
This prompted the head of the Kenyan delegation here Peter Orero to move with speed and ensure that Ligare, a playmaker and naturally a clutch player just like Bungei, gets into the next flight to Rwanda.
Bungei arrived in Kenya on November 2 from Australia where he is currently based and the Kenya Basketball Federation made sure he acquired the Kenyan citizenship by getting the Kenyan birth certificates and even went further to declare his American citizenship to be issued with a Kenyan identity card.
It’s is however the process of getting the ID printed that dragged until Monday morning making it impossible to get the Kenyan passport in a space of a few hours.
“We did all we could to try and get him the passport immediately after collecting the identity card but we were time barred because we were to catch the flight that same Monday evening to Kigali,” team manager Maxim Milimu, who has now taken over her managerial duties after completing her quarantine, said.
According her, Fiba officials had earlier indicated that Bungei would be allowed to play if he produces the original Kenyan birth certificate, Identity card and the temporary Kenyan passport all which were produced but they had other plans.
“It is still not clear to me why they decided to shift the goalposts at the last minute. We are however working to see if we can get him the passport through the Kenyan embassy in Rwanda,” she said.
Ligare, who was expected to touch down at Kigali Airport at midday Kenyan time, will be a good addition to the team whose morale has been affected by the latest development.
Coach Cliff Owuor could not believe that his prized asset had been barred but promised to soldier on.
“It is shocking for sure but I will have to tweak the team until I finally get a winning formula. My target of registering at least two wins are well on course,” Owuor, who is very much at home here in Kigali having coached basketball teams in this capital for 15 years before returning to Kenya last year said.
Owuor also confirmed that Wamukota was officially out of the team for this games after he was quarantined in Kinshasa.
“I have been contact with Wamukota, he is in very low spirits after he was quarantined but I’m encouraging him to stay strong ,” Owuor said of the 7 footer who has taken Rwanda basketballby storm since his arrival here in February.