16 October, 2019
22 December
Patriots win fourth title
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Patriots chasing continuity with BAL return in sight

KIGALI (Rwanda) - Rwandan champions Patriots are in high spirits after securing a three-peat and a place in next year's Basketball Africa League (BAL) Qualifiers for a possible appearance in the continent's biggest club competition. 

Four national league titles in the past five years has given them cult status in the Rwandan capital and the feeling in their camp is one that embraces the need to establish continuity not just within the country, in East Africa but also on the continent. 

It is a tall order and a tough ask but as they say, where there is a will, there is a way. 

Mugabe lifts the 2019/20 national league title 

Patriots captain Aristide Mugabe told FIBA.basketball that, "Winning the league title this season was very important. It allows us to keep building the team to be a competitive one. Our players are getting some experience and it makes other players want to join us. It is a nice thing. We are happy and thankful."

"This is the security we needed going into BAL. It also gives us more confidence. It would be different going to play if we knew that we had lost the title but now, we are confident and yet we still want to do more."

Patriots are the only side that went unbeaten in nine qualifying games en route to booking a place at this year's BAL - a tournament that is expected to change the face of African basketball.

"I am very excited that BAL will be bigger than any African club competition we have ever had. A lot of talent will be in the tournament. It will be the best competition in Africa so I cannot wait and plus that the NBA is putting much into it so it will be a great competition," he said.

"BAL is the best opportunity to showcase African talent. We hope to have different coaches and scouts from different professional leagues and also we need high quality competition in Africa to put African basketball on another level." 

Patriots will be the only team from East and Central Africa at BAL 2020

While Mugabe and company continue to prepare for the BAL, some of their teammates will be representing their national teams during the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers from November 25-29 in Kigali. 

Led by dependable shooting guard Kenny Gasana for Rwanda and Tom Wamukota for Kenya, Mugabe believes that even though they are apart, this exposure will come in handy for Patriots.

"I am very proud of all my teammates that will be representing their countries. Bush will be representing Kenya and I believe he will do well. I wish him the best of luck. Kenny will be representing our country and he always gives unbelievable performances. I will be cheering for him and the team in general. I wish them the best of luck as they represent us," Mugabe said. 

Mugabe has played for Rwanda at three AfroBaskets

The 1.82m (6ft) point guard has amassed massive experience competing on the continent over the past decade including featuring at three AfroBasket editions in 2011, 2013 and 2017 as well as several continental club tournaments. 

His exposure will be crucial to the Patriots pursuit of glory when they take on a tough challenge against the elite basketball clubs in Africa - they too looking for a piece of the cake. For Mugabe and his troops, this is the ultimate test. 

Mugabe revealed that the Patriots will be out for the top prize. He said, "We want first to be among the Semi-Finalists and restart from there. The main goal is the title but it starts from getting out of the group stages."

"Playing at home is always different even if the fans are not allowed to be in attendance, but at least they will be watching from home and we will be having that feeling that they got us. The advantage is we will be playing in our arena so whoever will be there will be on our side."

Patriots will go into the BAL 2020 with high expectations but whether they can match them with the actual work on court is a question, to which the only time can tell the answer.