A second straight win for Burundi marked Sunday’s actions in the FIBA Africa Zone 5 Qualifiers for the AfroCan, on the day Rwanda outclassed Eritrea.
After beating South Sudan in the opener of the regional qualifier on Saturday, Burundi defeated hosts Tanzania 77-63, while Rwanda outclassed Eritrea 114-34.
Burundi clubs have shown tremendous progress at continental competitions in recent times, and this starts to reflect the national team’s growth.
They sit now in a strong position to fight for the region’s solo ticket for the 2023 FIBA AfroCan to be held in Angola in July.
Burundi trailed 33-28 at the break, but they made sure to rise to the occasion in the second half.
Guibert Nijimbere, who spent 33 minutes on the court, made the most of his playing time as he sank 19 points, 12 of them from behind the arc to go along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Landry Ndikumana, who was instrumental in the win against South Sudan on the previous day with 15 points, recorded one of the tournament’s first double-doubles, finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Two other players from Burundi finished with double digits to their credit. Richard Mdikuriyo added 15 points and Paulin-Gauthier Jimbere came up with 13 points.
In the third and fourth quarters, Burundi scored 49 points, more than half their total points.
Burundi’s aggression resulted in 14 steals while picking 23 defensive rebounds.
On the other hand, the combined efforts of Kheri Kijogoo (11 points and 7 rebounds) and Edward Leopold (10 points) – the only two Tanzanians to finish with double digits – did not help their cause as the hosts scored a timid 30 points in the second half.
With this second win, Burundi get to top the Group while Tanzania are second before Monday’s games.
RWANDA START WITH EASY WIN
Although Rwanda started their qualifying campaign with a day’s rest, and it served their purpose as they outplayed Eritrea in every compartment of the game.
Rwanda were present on both ends of the court, and this was reflected in the rebounding battle, where they out-rebounded Eritrea 50-33.
Similarly, Rwanda had an impressive total of 27 assists, while their opponents only finished with six
A closer look at the figures show that five players wearing the Rwanda suit finished with 10 points or more.
Ntore Habimana scored a game-high 18 points; Robeyns William added 17, Kendall Grey contributed 16 and Dieudonne Ndizeye added 13 points for Rwanda.
Meanwhile, Aregay Mulugeta Israel – the only Eritrea to score in double digits – finished with 10 points, and Haile Yafet finished just one point off a double-double, contributing 9 points and 10 rebounds to a vain cause.
Eritrea will have a chance of making up for their bad runs as they will clash Burundi in a what is already a do-or-die game for them.
Later, South Sudan will rub shoulders with Rwanda, who are looking forward to keeping their winning ways in the tournament.