BY JULIUS MBARAGA
Espoir v APR (Primature)
UNR v Marine (UNR)
KIE v Rusizi (KIE)
CSK v UGB (Cercle Sportif)
Espoir v Rusizi
UGB v Marine
CSK v APR
It could go from bad to worse for Espoir when they host defending champions APR this afternoon at Premature. After surviving a tense finale in their season opener against Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) 63-61, the 2004 champions lost 64-80 against Marine last Sunday and look ripe for the taking against Cliff Owuor’s Indomitable Lions.
As basketball fans look forward to a spectacle challenge between the old rivals, Espoir’s coach Arsene Mukubwa is unconcerned that he is only grinding out results.
“We have a game plan and we hope to stick to it but I get the comfort that we can handle pressure,” Mukubwa told Times Sport.
“On paper, they are favourites but we shall give them a good fight. Our target this time is to return to the play-offs and then move on from there.”
APR’s two-man Presta Malemba will be the star attraction after sinking a career best 33 points last Sunday against Rusizi.
Malemba, who spent most of last season in APR’s string side, has wasted no time in gelling with first team players like Mike Buzangu and Blaise Nikobahoze to set the champions rolling.
APR’s Karim Nkusi is set to start against his former side Espoir
Although some believe that the excitement and anticipation that used to be associated with the APR-Espoir rivalry has become modest, Owuor still thinks otherwise.
“I still think that Espoir is a big team that can win against any side on a good day so we are not taking them lightly,” the former Kenyan international said.
In the other day’s crunch ties, KIE host Rusizi, CSK entertains UGB at Cercle Sportif while 2007 champions Marine travel to National University of Rwanda (UNR).
On Sunday, three enticing games are on cards at premature. Espoir host Rusizi, UGB plays Marine while APR clash with CSK.