BY JULIUS MBARAGA
Trophy drought goes on for another year
IT could now take Espoir much longer for them to lift the Gisembe Memorial title after Sunday’s 83-70 defeat against APR’s indomitable lions.
The Rafiki-based side came close to causing a major upset before running out of gas when it mattered most.
After toiling for most parts of the game (11-17, 17-21, 17-22), Espoir crawled back into the game with a top notch fourth quarter display which was spearheaded by their veteran shooting forward Valery Uwineza and upcoming talent Leonel Hakizimana.
Was APR’s Gaylord Ndugu receives the Gisembe trophy.
The pair raked in 18 points in the fourth quarter to bring back to life their seemingly dejected crowd that had filled Amahoro’s indoor court.
With just over a minute to go, Espoir were six points adrift however, two-three pointers from Karim Nkusi annihilated their hopes as the reigning champions broke away to win the title for a record fifth successive time.
In the other categories, Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) lifted the juniors’ title after their 84-78 win over Lycee de Kigali while APR beat Burundi’s Les Gazelles on points’ average to claim the women prize.
The event organizers (Espoir) last won the tournament in 2004, the same year they won the national league, their last piece of silverware.
The three-day event, jointly sponsored by CNLG, MMI, Ministry of Sports and Culture and Belvedere is an annual event held in memory of Espoir great Emmanuel ‘Gisembe’ Ntawungera and several basketball players, administrators and fans who perished during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.
Gisembe, a force to reckon with in the center position was one of many top basketball talents who died during the 1994 mayhem.
“He was one of the best players to grace Rwandan basketball.
Together with his team mates, they had taken the sport to a whole new level,” said Espoir’s vice president Pierre Umunyangabe, who also coached Espoir between 1994 and 2004.