The United States International University(Usiu) teams depart Wednesday for the 2016 Fiba Africa Zone V Clubs Basketball Championships that gets underway in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from Saturday.
The Usiu men are hopeful to go past the third place finish they had in the championship three years ago in their debut in Burundi.
Since then, things have not been rosy for the men’s side who have missed the championship for the last two years owing to their lackluster performance in the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) Premier League.
But the men’s side has shown resilient in the game lately and this was inspired by their runners up finish in the KBF league behind Ulinzi last season.
Head coach George Mayienga admits inexperience cost them the regional title in Burundi and it’s the reason he has blended the team well with experienced players ahead of the Dar event.
“We have trained and work on our techniques well and I am hopeful the same will be replicated on the pitch in Dar,” noted Mayienga.
Since their debut in the regional event in Burundi, the Usiu women’s side has been the most consistent including winning the contest in 2014 in Mombasa.
The women’s first appearance in the tournament in Burundi saw them make it to the finals where they were edged out by the then Kenya basketball powerhouse Eagle Wings who were under the management of former international and long serving coach, the late Thomas Smatts Olumbo.
Usiu women managed to qualify for the continental clubs championship that was held in Morocco that season where they ended in fifth place.
The women were able to bag the Fiba Africa Zone V Championship a year later (2014) in Mombasa against experienced Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) in a tightly contested final which saw them qualify for the continental championship in Tunisia.
“We had one of the best performances this season, unfortunately we got carried away with the Zone V victory and this cost us a great deal in Tunisia where we finished a distant eighth,”Mayienga remembers.