KBF vows to punish truancy as teams prepare for qualifiers

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PHILIP ONYANGO

By PHILIP ONYANGO
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Foreign-based players Taylor Okari, Vilma Achieng, Felmas Adhiambo and Christine Akinyi are some of the players that are already in the country to link up with the national men’s and women’s basketball teams that are in training for the African Games qualifiers set for Kampala, Uganda next month.

At the same time, Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) has now resolved to take disciplinary actions against any players who will not report to the national team training camp, while appealing to players show patriotism.

KBF chairman Paul Otula says Kenya has great talent that can challenge for any continental title but has often been let down by players who do not embrace the opportunity to feature in national teams.

“We have several talented men and women basketball players both locally and abroad whom if put together in training can beat any African nation,” Otula said, while heaping praise on those who have responded to the call up so far.

In a tough statement, Otula said it was disturbing that some players especially men, have continued to ignore national team call ups leaving the coaches with no option but to field fringe players in international events, a move he says has affected Kenya’s Fiba ranking.

“We want our best players anytime the national team is playing whether in friendly or competitive matches because as federation officials, we are answerable to our stakeholders whenever the teams perform badly,” Otula said.

He adds that the federation will ensure all those players who need release letters are furnished with the same in time to allow them enough time to attend training and wants the players to co-operate.

KBF will take it upon itself to seek audience with the player’s employers, he promises, in cases where players fail to report to national team training without a valid reason.

“It will not be business as usual because we now have a sponsor who will definitely require results and therefore the excuses that so and so failed to honour the national team call up should not arise,” Otula posited.

Otula has, therefore, opened the door to all players who feel they deserve to be in the national teams, but were left out to report for training assuring them that national team coaches Ronnie Owino (women) and Cliff Owuor (men) will only choose the best in the final team to travel.

Otula is happy that Kenya’s shooting guard Eric Mutoro, who missed previous call ups due to engagements at his place of work, was now available for selection and will report to the team’s training camp.

At the same time, players continue to arrive in the country and Okari, arguably one of Kenya’s most successful professional basketball players arrived on Monday from Denmark where he plies his trade with Bakken Bears basketball club.

Achieng also landed on Monday from the Seychelles where she had a brief stint, while Adhiambo got back from the US where she is a student as is Christine Akinyi who studies and plays in Uganda.

More of the foreign legion are still expected with Dubai-based Rose Ouma Nalo set to arrive on June 19, two days after Australia-based Desmond Owili.

Peter Orero, KBF treasurer on Tuesday said the federation was ready to facilitate all players who are based outside the country to link up with the rest in training.

“We better lose, with Kenya’s best rather than win with a skeleton team which does not reflect the real talents available in Kenya,” he said, while confirming that former US-based Rose Ouma, who is currently plying her trade in Dubai, had also agreed to link up with the team before the championships.



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