Rwanda: APR Star Niyonkuru Eyes MVP Accolade This Season

Rwanda international and APR basketball star, Pascal Niyonkuru, is optimistic about chasing his first MVP award of the BK Basketball National League when action resumes in September.

The domestic topflight basketball championship will not restart until September 4, nearly six months since it was suspended on March 15 - along with every other sports activity in the country - due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While, thanks to timely and well-executed preventive measures, Rwanda has only recorded 325 cases and no death as of Saturday, May 23, the world greatly suffered from the pandemic with the number of cases now having surged over 5.3 million and 342,000 deaths.

Following the announcement from the Ministry of Sports a fortnight ago extending the ban on competitive sports until September, Rwanda basketball federation (Ferwaba) has since decided that the league will be resuming on Friday, September 4.

Niyonkuru, fondly known as Kaceka, insists that the lockdown has not affected his fitness level because of intensive home training and his sight is still focused on winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) accolade this season.

"I was the league's top-scorer last season, this time my target is to be the MVP," he told Times Sport in an interview over the weekend.

"Since the lockdown started [in March], I have been under fitness training at home. So I will be ready when the league returns."

Asked who he thought would be his closest challengers for the MVP Award, Niyonkuru singled out Patriots duo of title holder Dieudonne Ndizeye and Guibert Nijimbere as well as his own APR teammate Armel Sangwe as the likely top candidates for the accolade.

"I am not putting individual awards before team effort. I would be happier if we win the league title - though it is an uphill task - and we will continue to fight until the race is over."

Rwanda Energy Group top the table with 23 points after 12 games, reigning champions Patriots are second with 22 points, while APR with 15 points and four games in hand.

Former regional giants APR, with a 7:1 win ratio, have only lost once against Patriots this season.

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