After winning the 2023 Rwanda Basketball League championship that earned them a dream ticket to make their maiden appearance at the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in 2024, APR BBC have no plan of going to the continental competition just to participate. They want to do all it takes to bring it home.

READ ALSOTrakh opens up on tactics, background work that ended APR’s 14-year title jinx

The club has been celebrating the coveted trophy for the last couple of days, but while they are still in such a mood, the management is already looking ahead at winning more – this time on the continental scene.

Mazen Trakh, the seasoned American coach at the helm of the club, is already working together with his his counterparts on the technical bench to find the best foreign players to boost the club’s roster. On Tuesday, he flew out to New York, United States, to scout a couple of players that APR could potentially trade.

The Rwandan champions have to be very meticulous while choosing foreign players to add to their roster since the BAL allows teams to add only four to their rosters including two Africans and two who were born outside Africa.

Trakh thinks the team can get some of the best players who can put his team in a very good place. Here, if nothing changes, besides the Americans that he wants to bring to the team, he expects to get a couple of Africans who play from the United States too.

This is a process that has to be finalised in time because the team wants to enter a residential camp not later than December, in order to start intensive preparations as early as possible.

“I think we will finalise our Rwandan roster first, so that we know what positions we have in Rwanda. Then we will (continue) with the African continent,” Trakh told Times Sport.

On the Rwandan player trades perspective, APR could consider recruiting some of the top free agents in the domestic league to beef up its BAL roster. Trakh did not share the details regarding which Rwandan players who are on the team’s radar, but he did not hide his admiration for Osborn Shema, a forward who plies his trade with colleges in the USA.

An experienced tactician who worked in the NBA for some years, Trakh knows how good a player may be, having worked with some NBA stars like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden.

APR knows how competitive BAL is

Shortly after his arrival at APR in May, Trakh took time to watch the 2023 BAL playoffs where African elite clubs like eventual champions Al Ahly (Egypt), Angola’s Petro de Luanda, Cote d’Ivoire’s ABC Fighters and co. were rubbing shoulders live at BK Arena.

He wanted to get the clear picture of the competition to which he was hoping to take his team next season.

Besides, APR hopes to carry on with efforts of making sure its players are very fit and conditioned at a level where they will be in top physical shape going into the BAL.

Currently, the players live together in the same vicinity as part of the club’s efforts to build the chemistry. The team’s administration managed to provide this by getting all players and club staff into apartments in the Acacus compound, a Kicukiro-based modern residential facility.

“They see each other every day. We’re able to create more of a bond between us. They will see me, not in the gym. They’ll see me out walking and say, ‘Hey coach, how are you doing?’” Trakh said.

Staying together at the same facility, the coach said, helped the club monitor their diet as well as their physical fitness, especially in terms of recovery after going through the drills.

“They sit together, they eat together – breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

At the facility, the players were also able to have ice baths on a daily basis to help their bodies recover after every practice.

 Follow @NkotanyiDamas