•Naykundi, a former college player at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, dislcosed that he followed the national team performance during last year’s Africa show in Bamako, Mali and thought the team did pretty well by bagging a silver medal.
•Nyakundi, who has played professional in Europe with clubs in France, Belgium and Romania, said this is the time to help the next generation of players going forward.
FRANCE-based Robert Nyakundi yesterday said he is here to help Kenya win the Afro-basket pre-qualifiers that tip offs at Nyayo National Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
The forward, who will be making his debut in the national team in the five-day championship, said his goal is to help Kenya win the tournament and secure qualification to the next phase.
“I want to help the team win this event and get the opportunity to play in the big continental stage,” he said adding, “Playing in the Afro-basket is a big because this is where top coaches scout for good players.”
Nyakundi was speaking at Nyayo Stadium gymnasium after only his first training session with the rest of the players. He arrived in Nairobi on Friday and Immediately revealed that this was the first step to bigger things.
“It has been my goal to play for the national team since I became professional. I am happy this will become a reality this week. It is not only an honour for me but my family as well,” said the 27-year-old star.
Naykundi, a former college player at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, dislcosed that he followed the national team performance during last year’s Africa show in Bamako, Mali and thought the team did pretty well by bagging a silver medal.
“I followed all their games on Youtube and I was impressed with what I saw. Now I am happy to be part of the team and I want to leave a mark. The country has a lot of untapped potential and talent that only needs to be exposed,” he said.
Nyakundi, who has played professional in Europe with clubs in France, Belgium and Romania, said this is the time to help the next generation of players going forward.
Coach Cliff Owuor was happy with what he saw during the first training session, saying Nyakundi was a pure shooter and will play a key role in the team’s quest to win the sole ticket starting tomorrow.
“He is a pure shooter. He will give us the perimeter shooting that we really need now that we will not have sharp shooter Tyler Ongwae into the team. He can dish and also take it in,” Owuor noted.
Assistant coach Collins Gaya was equally impressed and observed: “His understanding of the game in only the first day of training was amazing. Getting a guy this size who can playmake, score and is comfortable with the ball is a plus.”
Owuor said he will name his final squad after the arrival of Bush Wamukota. He confirmed that the Tunisia-based post player is expected in the country today.
The tournament will bring together zonal teams from Eritrea, Tanzania, Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya. Egypt, Rwanda and Uganda have already qualified for the next round.
Seven zones will play the pre-qualifiers in five groups across the continent this month with five winners progressing to the next stage, where they will join 15 teams that took part in Afro-basket 2017 in Senegal.
A win for Kenya will see them join Senegal, Angola and Mozambique in Group B, whose matches will be played in November 23- December 1 at venues yet to be determined. The top three teams will then qualify for the 2021 Afrobasket in Kigali, Rwanda.