Thursday, July 8
Morocco 65-77 Uganda
Kigali, here we come.
The Uganda National Basketball men’s team on Thursday qualified for the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket in Kigali Rwanda after beating Morocco 77-65 at FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers in Rabat.
Despite holding a 10-point cushion going into the last quarter, Uganda had to endure tense closing minutes before out-lasting the hosts down the stretch.
The result means that Uganda, who had the second window games postponed due to Covid19, finishes second in Group E behind already qualified Egypt.
The victory at Salle Omnisport El Bouazzaoui Arena sends Uganda to another Afrobasket finals for a third straight attempt after appearances in 2017 and 2019.
Arthur Kaluma led the way with 20 points while Ishmael Wainright scored a 11-point and 12-rebound double double for the Silverbacks.
Cape Verde comes third in the group, and have also qualified while its the end of the road for Morocco who are rooted at the rock bottom.
- Pictorial: Silverbacks gear up for Morocco
The qualification for Uganda has been built on an impressive first window in November last year where Uganda won two of the three games in Cairo.
Uganda goes straight into Group D of Fiba Afrobasket that has Senegal, Cameroon and South Sudan for the Competition due August 24 to September 5 2021.
The Afrobasket, now played once every after four years, is the men’s basketball continental championship contested by the senior national teams of Africa.
Silverbacks, Deserved Winners
Wainright scored his first basket midway through the first quarter to give Uganda a 11-5 lead at 4:34, and despite running into early foul trouble, the team held on to take a 20-10 lead.
The Visitors were admirable in the second quarter as they held Uganda to only 12 points as they cut the lead to one point thanks to Abdelhakim Zouita’s 10 points.
The Silverbacks opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run in the opening minute to lead 31-39; Robinson Opong started the run with an inside jumper, Tonny drilleba made a corner three and Jimmy Enabu laid up from below the post.
Wainright missed both of his two free-throws but Morocco failed to capitalise on as Uganda continued to create open shots and powered to a 54-44 advantage.
Reda Ali Harras made two from the line and scored with a hummer moments later to drive Morocco to with in six points with eight minutes on the clock.
It remained a back and forth but Soufiane Kourdou’s two made free throws left Uganda’s lead to three points into the last 4 minutes.
As Uganda pulled away with Arthur Kaluma’s jumper and Wainright’s conversion from the line, they were once again pegged back by Mohamed Choua whose three made it 63-66 at 03:02.
Keiran Zziwa had put back from Deng Geu’s missed three, Uganda added more points from foul shots before Kaluma sealed off the win with a dunk to hand Uganda a historical win.
Morocco’s 11th straight qualification to Afrobasket attempt comes to and end!
Soufiane Kourdou, Reda ali Harras and Abdelhkim Zouita scored 13 points each in a losing effort for Morocco who will not be at Afrobasket for the first time since 1997 in Senegal.
Kaluma shot 7-for-11 from the field for his 20, Wainright who struggled from beyond the arc managed 11 points while Eric Rwahire (14) and John Deng Geu added 10 points in the victory.
Uganda were 40.62% from the field and outrebounded Morocco 42-36.
Brave Uganda Sails Through Amidst Hardships
Uganda started the campaign with a 96-77 loss to Egypt in November’s first window.
However, back-to-back wins against Morocco (94-90) and Cape Verde (101-98) saw Uganda put one foot in Kigali.
Come the second window in February, all hopes were washed away when Uganda was forced to return home just hours to tip of their first game (vs Egypt) when five members of the Silverbacks contingent tested positive for Covid19 in Tunisia.
However, FIBA later rescheduled Uganda’s second window games.
Prior to the Morocco game, Uganda almost withdrew from the trip to Rabat after Government failed to fund the campaign.
However, FUBA president Nasser Sserunjogi and the National Team committee that has Hajji Mohamed Santur and Grace Kwizera had to devise plans to fly out the team.
The preparations for the tie were unconvincing as the team had a four-day camp in Egypy before crossing to Morocco.
But when the game tipped off, the Silverbacks brushed aside all woes to overcome Morocco, and reach dream land.