Gallant Silverbacks Leave Coach Galanopoulos Purring

Uganda’s qualification to the 2021 Afrobaskest finals has been an iconic feat, one that will remain etched in the memories of Ugandan basketball hoops for years no end.

The team fared amid sheer adversity brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, and still excelled with distinction. Impressive and Sensational all rolled into one.

The watershed feat was in Rabat on Thursday night when Uganda beat giants Morroco 77-65 and booked the ticket to the biennial tournament with a
game to spare.

The victorious Silverbacks. Courtesy

Thanks to an impressive shift from debutant Arthur Kaluma who grabbed headlines with a 20-point game high to spur Uganda to a much needed victory.

And Silverbacks head coach George Galanopoulos reckons that he doesn’t have the right superlatives to describe the achievement.

Speaking after the game, the American gaffer said: “It is hard to put into words exactly how I and the group feel about this win.”

“The one thing I can say about it is besides how much fun this campaign was, starting with only four players and my self getting here a week and a half ago, adding the local players from Uganda and a couple of more players after that.

“As the group came together little by little, it was amazing to see them do that in just a short period of time and every person that came here brought good and positive energy to the group.”

The coaches: (L-R): Andrew Tendo, George Galanopoulos, Mande Juruni and Mike Schmitz. FIBA

After being bundled out the initial qualifers due to Covid-19 cases in the team contingent in February, Uganda got a second bite at cherry when FIBA rescheduled her remaining qualification games for the second window.

The trip to Morroco came to fruition amid string of financial and logistical hardships.

“We didn’t have to review anything in practice, we didn’t have to go backwards so we were pushing forward everyday and the one thing that I can attest to is that the group of guys we have is one of the most amazing that I have with on the planet, from the players to management and the coaches.

“The support we get from the country is unmatched to anything I have ever seen and I always tell the players that the time we have goes by really fast and the most you can do is enjoy it.

“The one thing about this group among all my campaigns with Uganda is that they enjoyed their time together and enjoyed every moment more than any other group I have been with.”

The victory means that Uganda will return to Afrobasket for a third straight time after apperances in 2017 and 2019.

Honour: Eric Rwahiire with the national flag. FIBA photo

Galanopoulos added: “I am just extremely proud of this group, am proud to represent Uganda and am very thankful to be allowed to be part of this and am exited about the future.

“This is about the players who are incredible people plus the people who got them here. Management, the coaching staff who have done a great job and i am happy to be part of it and exited about the future.”

Galanopolous, the former Dallas Mavericks video coordinator, was appointed Uganda coach in 2017.

He helped Uganda finish 13th in 2017 Afrobasket.

Mission Accomplished: Jimmy Enabu (R) and Tonny Drilleba. FIBA photo



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