(Lamunu in action in Finland. Courtesy photo)
The team will be flagged off on Tuesday for the inaugural qualifiers in Puerto Rico
Foreign based star Claire Lamunu will lead Uganda’s women national basketball 3X3 team, the Gazelles, in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup qualifiers.
Lamunu, a biochemist student who is now plying her trade with Finland top flight side Kuovola, joined the other members of the Gazelles last week in training at KIU.
Uganda will take a team of four players. UCU Lady Canons’ Sarah Ageno joins JKL Lady Dolphins duo Jamila ‘Zama’ Nansikombi and Rita Imanishimwe.
Jane Asinde, Hope Akello, Maimuna Naboosa and Priscilla Abbey are the other players who are on standby but have been training with the team.
“She is important and give us what we normally lack in size and skill of a big man,” Coach Hamza Nyambogo says of Lamunu’s availability. “Her smartnes and maturity will give more balance to the team.”
Lamunu joined the Finnish side after a successful stay in Portugal where she scooped a Basketball Player of the Season gong with Boa Viagem.
Lamunu is a 6-foot-1 forward whose experience will be key in the team’s journey.
At KIU court, the team has been under the stewardship of coaches Nyambogo, Mavita Ali and Nicholas Natuhereza.
Uganda’s quartet – Lamunu, Imanishimwe, Ageno and Zama – is the very team that participated in a 2018 World Cup in Philippines where the team finished 12th overall, after coming third in a tough Pool C, losing to USA and Russia but beat up on Iran and Andora.
The Qualifiers In Puerto Rico
The qualifiers are set in San Juan, Puerto Rico from May 4 to 5, 2019.
Uganda will seek to finish among the top three teams to qualify to the 2019 FIBA 3X3 World Cup which takes place in Amsterdam. Netherlands on June 18-23.
To reach the glamorous World event, Uganda must negotiate past other eight opponents. Uganda is in Pool A alongside Estonia, Uganda, Australia and Puerto Rico. Pool B has Brazil, Spain, New Zealand and Mali.
“Well we have a good chance to qualify,” narrates Nyambogo. “The format of play allow us space to qualify but it will all depend on us being able to play together and stick to the game plan.”
This, will be the first ever FIBA 3×3 World Cup Qualifiers. Uganda will be seeking for a third return at the world event after previous appearances in 2018 and 2014.