NAIROBI, April 23 – National Deaf men’s basketball team head coach Jeff Mwaniki has said he will not set unrealistic goals for his team to represent the country at the 24th Deaflympics scheduled for Caxias Do Sul in Brazil from May 1 to 15.
Mwaniki says he won’t pressure the team ahead of the three-week championship.
The team, he said, will play one game at a time as they take on powerhouses Israel, USA, Argentina and Poland in Pool A while Pool B will feature Lithuania, hosts from Brazil, Greece, Venezuela, Chinese Taipei and Ukraine.
Mwaniki, 35, who is the head basketball coach at the Kenya Academy of Sports, identified the United States as their main rivals and called Argentina, Israel and Brazil good teams.
“USA have been dominant in the Deaflympics because they have players playing in leagues and we will try to expose their weaknesses and flaws,” the tactician said.
The team have failed to win a game in the last two leagues and coach Mwaniki says he is confident of improving performance in Brazil.
“Depending on the competition, my goal as a coach is to make them play at their best. I’m not going to pressure them to win gold medals. We have to be realistic with our goals,” a- he said during the team’s training camp at the Kasarani gymnasium.
The preparations have been positive and I thank the government for being there for the deaf team. The unfortunate thing is that they didn’t compete where they are from because they come from counties and cities where there is no basketball activity.
“After here they come in and relax, but the beauty of it, we had a conversation with the government to start their own league.”
The technical bench reduced the team from 20 to 12 which will go to Brazil. He has integrated six senior players and as many junior players.
“I mostly selected utility players and fixed position players which is a mistake most coaches make,” the coach remarked.
Captain and point guard Calvin Musalia, 38, who was part of the squad that represented Kenya at the 2013 and 2017 Deaflympics, says Kenya will field a better team this time around.
“In 2013 and 2017 we were rookies but now we are solid. We are confident to race better in Brazil because we have learned a lot and we are playing with more freedom now,” Musalia said.