Rwanda’s Basketball Prowess Shines Amidst Mixed Results at U-18 FIBA Africa Zone V Qualifiers: Day 1

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Rwanda’s boys beat Kenya 81-52 in a dominant performance.
Dylan Kayijuka led Rwanda with 20 points and solid teamwork.
Rwanda’s girls lost to Uganda 40-78 despite a strong start.
Brigitte Nibishaka scored 20 points; Rwanda prepares for Tanzania.

The U-18 FIBA Africa Zone V qualifiers, held in Kampala, Uganda, showcased the budding basketball talent from the region. Rwanda’s boys and girls teams had contrasting fortunes, with the boys delivering a dominant performance while the girls faced a challenging opener.

Boys: A Commanding Victory Over Kenya

Rwanda’s boys team made a resounding statement with an 81-52 victory over Kenya, signaling their intentions to compete fiercely in the tournament. The star of the game, Dylan Lebson Kayijuka, delivered a remarkable performance, scoring a game-high 20 points. His leadership on the court was instrumental in Rwanda’s commanding win.

Early Dominance

From the onset, Rwanda established their dominance, outplaying Kenya in the first quarter with a decisive 21-6 lead. The Kenyan team struggled to find their footing, allowing Rwanda to control the pace and rhythm of the game. Despite a brief resurgence from Kenya in the second quarter, where they outscored Rwanda 19-15, the Rwandan team maintained their lead at halftime.

Second Half Brilliance

The second half saw Rwanda intensify their efforts. Kayijuka, alongside teammates Christian Iranzi and Larsson Shema, orchestrated a cohesive and aggressive offense. They outscored Kenya 26-10 in the third quarter, effectively sealing the game. The final quarter was a formality, with Rwanda maintaining their lead and closing the game at 19-17.

Kayijuka’s performance was complemented by Iranzi’s 15 points and Shema’s 12 points. Kayijuka also contributed with 4 rebounds and 3 assists, showcasing his all-around skills and court vision. This victory sets a promising tone for Rwanda as they prepare to face hosts Uganda in their next match.

Girls: A Tough Start Against Uganda

In contrast, the Rwanda U18 girls’ team faced a tough challenge in their opener, succumbing to a 40-78 defeat against Uganda. Despite a promising start, winning the first quarter 14-11, the Rwandan girls were unable to sustain their momentum.

Promising Start Fades

The opening quarter hinted at a competitive match, with Rwanda showing resilience and tactical discipline. However, Uganda quickly adjusted and took control in the subsequent quarters. The second quarter saw Uganda overpower Rwanda 31-13, shifting the game’s dynamics significantly.

Struggles in the Second Half

The third quarter was more balanced, with Rwanda trailing closely but still losing 14-13. The final quarter, however, was a stark contrast as Uganda shut out Rwanda 22-0, securing a comprehensive victory.

Brigitte Nibishaka stood out for Rwanda, scoring 20 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. Rebecca Cyuzuzo added 5 points, but their efforts were overshadowed by Uganda’s dominant performance, led by Resty Nanangwe’s game-high 24 points.

The contrasting results for the Rwandan teams highlight the unpredictable nature of youth tournaments and the varying stages of team development. For the boys, the win against Kenya is a morale booster and a testament to their potential to advance far in the tournament. Their next match against Uganda will be a crucial test of their consistency and ability to perform under pressure.

For the girls, the heavy defeat against Uganda serves as a learning experience. They will need to regroup, analyze their shortcomings, and strategize for their upcoming game against Tanzania. The resilience and growth mindset will be key as they seek to bounce back and make their mark in the tournament.

Notable Performances

Dylan Lebson Kayijuka scored 20 points, with 4 rebounds and 3 assists, leading Rwanda’s victory.
Christian Iranzi contributed significantly, adding 15 points to Rwanda’s dominant performance against Kenya.
Larsson Shema supported Rwanda’s win, scoring 12 points and showcasing strong offensive skills.
Brigitte Nibishaka scored 20 points and grabbed 7 rebounds despite Rwanda girls’ loss to Uganda.

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