•The team he said will take one game at a time when they face powerhouses Israel, United States, Argentina, and Poland in pool A while pool B will have has Lithuania, hosts Brazil, Greece, Venezuela, Chinese Taipei, and Ukraine.
•The team has failed to win a game in the last two championships and coach Mwaniki says he is confident of improved performance in Brazil.
The national men’s deaf basketball team head coach Jeff Mwaniki says he will not set impractical goals for his team ahead of the 24th Deaflympics scheduled for May 1 to 15 in Caxias Do Sul, Brazil.
Mwaniki said he'll also not put pressure on his charges but will instead take one game at a time when they face powerhouses Israel, United States, Argentina, and Poland in Pool A.
Pool 'B' will comprise Lithuania, host Brazil, Greece, Venezuela, Chinese Taipei, and Ukraine.
Mwaniki, 35, who doubles up as basketball coach at the Kenya Academy of Sports, said while the United States are their biggest threat, Argentina, Israel, and Brazil are equally good teams.
“The US has been dominant in Deaflympics because they have players who play in leagues but we will try to expose their weaknesses and flaws. I also want the players to enjoy and have fun,” said the tactician.
The team has failed to win a game in the last two championships and coach Mwaniki says he is confident of improved performance in Brazil.
“Based on the competition, my target as a coach is to have them play at their best.
"I’m not going to put pressure on them to win gold medals. We have to be realistic with our goals. "If we lost to a particular country by this margin, this time around, can we reduce it, if they slip, we beat them,” he said at the team’s Kasarani gymnasium training camp.
He added; "The preparations have been positive and I thank the government for being there for the Deaflympics team.
"The unfortunate bit is that they have not been competing at the county level and we have had to start afresh.
"After here, they go back and relax but the beauty of it all is that we are having a conversation with the government to come up with their own league.”
The technical bench has whittled down the team from 20 to 12 who will travel to Brazil. He has integrated six senior and the same number of junior players.
“I mostly selected utility players and fixed position players which is a mistake most coaches make. This team has a great future,” remarked the coach.
Mwaniki said one of his assistants Caleb Kabaka is a former Deaf basketball international. “I want one day to have a deaf person coaching the national team,” he said. His other assistants are Dean Wamema and Innocent Ratemo.
Captain and point guard Calvin Musalia, 38, who was in the team that represented Kenya in the 2013 and 2017 Deaflympic Games, says Kenya will field a better team this time around.
“In 2013 and 2017, we were rookies but now we are solid. We are confident of a better run in Brazil because we have learned a lot and we play with more freedom now,” said Musalia.
According to Mwaniki, the team does morning runs from 5 am to 6 am then engages in shooting skills from 6 am then game structure.