The 2023 AfroCAN tournament that concluded in Luanda, Angola, was a joy to watch, especially for Rwandan fans who saw their team clinch a third place finish throughout the campaign.
The eight-day showpiece, which is exclusively for players who ply their trade on the continent, attracted 12 nations out of which Morocco victorious after a 78-76 victory over Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday, July 16.
Team Rwanda put up a great effort, making its way from finishing the group phase without a single win to reaching the semifinals where they were knocked out by Cote d’Ivoire by a very small margin.
Yves Murenzi’s side concluded the tournament on a good note with an 83-76 victory over DR Congo to return home with a bronze medal.
In this article, Times Sport looks at some five things that we learnt from the tournament.
Rwanda is getting right there…soon!
Besides finishing in third place out of the 12 teams that took part in AfroCAN in Angola, the team showed resilience even when they lost. For instance, during a group stage game where Rwanda battled eventual champions Morocco, the team lost 58-59, having led the game for the majority of the time.
The general performance was good as Rwanda beat the likes of hosts Angola, DR Congo and Mozambique, in addition to putting up a big fight in the games against champions Morocco by a small margin.
Rwanda needs to work on small details to connect the dots and, that way, they might be ready to hit the floor against great basketball nations on the continent.
Youngster Rutatika has come of age
Sano Rutatika, a young power forward who has come through the youth ranks in Rwanda, had his first proper outing with the senior national team.
The 19-year-old had a fairly decent performance overall. He used his size to support the team in defence and attack. He scored 27 points and 21 rebounds in the tournament. Not bad for a youngster who has been pushing for a place in the national team. The kid is proving that he is destined for greatness.
Rwanda got a new leader in Habimana
Point guard Ntore showed how he is continuing to become a vital player for Rwanda.
With his fearless, yet deft style of play, Habimana contributed to the team with eye-catching assists, scoring, and ball distributions. At times, he was the man who split the defenses of the opposing sides by attacking the paint to score or cause fouls for which resulted in free throws in favor of his side, Rwanda.
The 25-year-old scored a staggering 54 points, 26 rebounds and 27 assists throughout the tournament.
Ndizeye is an African basketball gem
Rwanda skipper Dieudonné Ndizeye enjoyed a memorable AfroCAN 2023 campaign which earned him a place in the team of the tournament.
A regular member of the Rwandan national team, Ndizeye left his mark in Luanda with consistent performances that helped Rwanda secure a third place finish overall after a hard fought 82-73 victory over DR Congo on Sunday, July 16, where the left-handed small forward contributed 22 points, which resulted from his 6-for-11 three-point shooting.
The 27-year-old recorded a team-high 15.7 points per game to help Rwanda finish in the top of continental competition for the first time in their history with a 3-3 run.
Get your game management right!
Rwanda started their 2023 FIBA Afro-CAN campaign on a low note after losing 61-67 to Tunisia in Group C’s opening game. The team got the game going in the first half of the game, but the Tunisians bounced back to win the tie in the final stages.
A similar scenario happened in the Morocco game, where the North Africans came from behind to beat Rwanda 59-58.
With such a persistent weakness, Rwanda can’t get in the way of an opponent who is strong mentally. The coaches need to sit down and probe what is really going wrong and come back with a solution. And they should fix this missing link to success as soon as they can.