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Can Ivory Coast halt Morans Afrocan quarters dream?

Monday July 22 2019

Kenya's Tyler Okari dribbles the ball during their 2019 African Games basketball qualifier match against Tanzania at Lugogo Sports Complex in Kampala on June 30, 2019. Kenya won 112-59. PHOTO | PHILIP ONYANGO |

Kenya's Tyler Okari dribbles the ball during their 2019 African Games basketball qualifier match against Tanzania at Lugogo Sports Complex in Kampala on June 30, 2019. Kenya won 112-59. PHOTO | PHILIP ONYANGO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

PHILIP ONYANGO
By PHILIP ONYANGO
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The national men basketball team will face Ivory Coast in the Round of 16 of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (Afrocan) at the Palais Des Sports Salamatu Maiga Arena in Bamako, Mali on Tuesday.

Kenya drew the West Africans who finished bottom of group 'A' after losing all their matches, the last being a humiliating 53-86 loss to leaders Mali. They had earlier lost to Algeria in the opening match.

The Morans, on the other hand, finished second in group 'B' thanks to DR Congo’s 81-55 win over Nigeria who settled for third to set a date with Algeria, the group 'A' runners-up.

Ivory Coast, who are yet to win a game in Mali, has qualified for the Fiba World Championships in China next month but they have to be wary of a Kenyan side who were considered underdogs until they shocked Egypt at the Zone Five qualifiers in Kampala.

“Against Nigeria, we knew they were going to be physical on us so we prepared the team to match their physicality. We also realized most of their players couldn't shoot under pressure so we stretched out our zone defence and communicated well," Kenya coach Cliff Owuor reflected on his side's only win in the continental tourney so far.

But Owuor revealed he will use a different approach against Ivory Coast who he says are more intense and could pose some challenge.

“We have to match their intensity level and control the boards then execute on offense and we should be good to go,” Owuor said on telephone from Bamako.

According to Owuor, the Kenya team is benefitting from being the first to arrive in Bamako and has since acclimatised.

Kenya will once again rely on Tyler Okari, Ariel Okal, Griffin Ligare and Eric Mutoro who have been outstanding and hope that Bush Wamukota and Ronnie Gundo, who were tipped to shine in Mali, have a good day in office.

Other matches played on Sunday saw Tunisia shock Egypt 75-68 but still finished second in group 'D' on poor aggregate while Angola defeated Morocco 68-58 to remain top of group 'C'.

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