By Joe Apu
Ahead of the February 23 FIBA 2019 World Cup qualifier, the Rwandan national basketball frederation has named a provisional 18-man squad to start preparations for the battle in Bamako, Mali.
Rwanda is placed in Group B alongside former African champions Nigeria, host Mali and neighbours Uganda.
The provisional team is made up of players mostly from 2018 national league table leaders REG and Patriots basketball clubs, while APR has three, with one player from UGB Deo Amani making the list.
At the end of the camping, only 12 players would be selected for the first leg qualifiers in Bamako, Mali
Meanwhile, Rwanda will face Mali in the opening game before taking on Nigeria and will conclude with Uganda at the group stage.
The African qualifiers consist of 12 tournaments played across six windows. The first round sees four groups of four teams each. Teams face one another over the course of two legs.
Teams from Groups A and C played during the first window (November 20-28, 2017), while Groups B and D sides take to the court during the second window (February 19-27, 2018). All 16 teams across the four groups are in action during the third window (June 25-July 3, 2018).
The top three teams from each group advance to the second round, where the 12 qualified teams are divided in two groups (E and F) of 6 teams each.
The first legs of the second-round tournament take place during the fourth window (September 10-18, 2018), with the return legs to follow during the fifth window (November 26-December 4, 2018) and the sixth window (February 20-28, 2019).
The top two teams from groups E and F and the best third-ranked team will secure their tickets for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. The first-ever 32-team edition of FIBA’s flagship competition will take place from August 31-September 15, 2019, in China.