Kenya’s hopes of competing in next month’s Afro Basket championships in Bamako went up in smoke after Fiba Africa awarded a wild card to Central African Republic (CAR).
With the development, the line-up for the 12-team event is complete. The tournament will take place in the Malian capital city from August 18 to 27. Kenya was hoping to be awarded the wildcard after it failed to clinch an automatic qualification spot in the Zone Five qualifiers held in Cairo early in the year.
Last month, Fiba Africa’s Julien Farran demanded that Kenya commits to field her foreign-based women basketball players for the championships before the country could be given the wild card.
Last week, Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) officials held a meeting with Sports Ministry officials, who promised to support the team should it make it to Bamako.
KBF treasurer Peter Orero admitted Fiba’s decision came as a surprise to them.
“We obviously thought we were in pole position to get the wild card and this decision comes a shock. It is unfortunate because we were working round the clock to get it,” Orero said.
CAR, who finished second to Democratic Republic of Congo in the Zone Four qualifiers, will compete in Group ‘A’ alongside Mali, Cameroon, Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire and Angola.
Group ‘B’ has Senegal, Nigeria, Egypt, Guinea, DR Congo and Mozambique. Group matches will be played in a round robin format, with every team taking on its five opponents in its respective group.
The top four teams from each group will advance to the final phase, to be played in a knockout format starting from the quarter-finals. The third-place game and the final will take place on August 27.
The top two teams at the end of the tourney will qualify for 2018 Fiba Women’s Basketball World Cup set for Spain from September 22 to 30.