The national basketball team, the Silverbacks, lost all three group games at the previous AfroBasket Championship hosted by Senegal and Tunisia in 2017.
The Silverbacks went down 94-89 to Angola in overtime before a 57-54 loss to Central African Republic and the 79-70 reverse to Morocco.
But despite that damning statistic, coach Mandy Juruni saw a silver lining going by the fine margins in all three defeats and, more importantly, the performances of the team who are only establishing themselves on the continent having returned from the wilderness at the previous edition in 2015.
That has given Juruni confidence ahead of the first of two windows of the 2021 qualification campaign.
“For as long as we have players with confidence and they have belief then we have a good chance,” Juruni said shortly before the team departed for a training camp in Egypt on Saturday.
Since 2017, Juruni has overseen the emergence of guard Tony Drileba who will be one of seven new faces on the team.
“He has been one of the most consistent players over the last two seasons in the league and plays with belief. As a team we have been gradually improving, playing in different international tournaments,” Juruni added.
From the team that played at the finals in 2017, Jimmy Enabu, James Okello, Ben Komakech, Joseph Ikong and Robinson Opong remain.
There are also three debutants, including UCU’s Titus Lual Odeke.
Others are Canada-based guard Eric Rwahire and US-based power forward Ishmail Wainwright, who was last listed at French side Strasbourg IG.
“So I’m very confident, you know we are playing two windows and every game is very important, every loss too because it gives you a second chance for you to do better.
“We’ve a lot to do in the first window to try and pick as many wins as we can. Having played these guys we have an idea how the team will be assembled,” Juruni added.
The team’s preparations could however again be undermined by a lack of finances with the team, flagged off by National Council of Sports on Friday, still waiting on government support.
“We are believers and remain positive we shall receive the necessary support. It was important for us to travel for the training camp and then the tournament because of the sanctions we would face if we missed. Missing the tournament would also mean missing out on international action for the next four years going by changes in the qualification formats,” explained Fuba president Nasser Sserunjogi.