16 October, 2019
22 December
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Madagascar's GNBC looking to impress at Basketball Africa League

ANTANANARIVO (Madagascar) - Back in December 2019, Madagascar's GNBC took Africa by a storm when they punched their ticket for the Regular Season of the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL).

As most hope to witness the 2020 BAL to be organised before the end of the year after an unexpected postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GNBC head coach Lova Navalona Raharidera has many wishes, one of them being the utter desire to leave an imprint in the history of the competition.

GNBC have earned respect for their feats on the floor during the BAL Qualifiers last year.

"We did our best and applied discipline and rigour in our games. We are now collecting the results of our efforts," says Raharidera.

Sure enough, the Malagasy side registered three straight wins against South Soudan's Cobra Sports, Comoros' USONI and Seychelles' Beau Vallon Heat, only losing to Kenya Ports Authority back in November, when Antananarivo hosted the first round of the Qualifiers.

 Madagascar's champions  Gendarmerie Nationale Basketball Club (GNBC) 

When they traveled to Kigali, Rwanda for the second phase of the Qualifiers, they upset the hierarchy by finishing second to Patriots BBC in Group A.

Along the way, GNBC brought a halt to the University of Zambia Pacers and Tanzania's J.K.T.'s ambitions, only losing to hosts Patriots BBC on two occasions, including final game.

With their names now embossed on the ticket, they are looking forward to something big in the Final Round. "This is a whole new experience for everyone. The players are excited and they have showed that they are to be trusted when it comes to upsetting the scene," the play-caller recalled.

Now that the next round is nearing, they are gearing up for what lies ahead. Raharidera said: "We know for sure that things will not be easy for us. Our opponents are among the best in Africa. We will have to level up to compete against them."

After the coronavirus pandemic hit the island, the Malagasy government issued a lockdown order, keeping everyone indoors. The team is now facing a major issue. "We can't have group training sessions. The players are keeping themselves fit, but it's the best we can do right now," acknowledges coach Raharidera.

Raharidera has other things in mind though.

Back in Kigali, he had concerns about the team's weakness. He acknowledged that GNBC needed a center to be more effective inside the paint: "We set out looking for one. He was supposed to join the club back in March. But with the pandemic happening and all, it has been postponed."

Solonirina Ramorasata (GNBC)

Now that everything is about to roll, they are getting ready for their opponents: "Somehow, we are going to be the underdogs. But when we qualified, we showed what we are capable of."

Carrying the country’s pride upon their shoulders, the Malagasy men want to defend their image on the continent.

But some things need to be catered for before heading to the Final Round. "First, we need to reinforce ourselves. We'd like to wait for the next step here in Madagascar so we know where we stand about recruiting new players. Only then will we be ready for the show," Raharidera noted.