Wednesday, August 25
*Nigeria 81-73 Mali
*Cameroon vs South Sudan (00-20, forfeit)
*Senegal 93-55 Uganda
*Ivory Coast 88-70 Kenya
Uganda’s national men basketball team, the Silverbacks, got their 2021 FIBA Afrobasket campaign on a low note after a 93-55 loss to Senegal at the Kigali Arena.
The Silverbacks who were out-rebounded 56-43, suffered against the superior size, length and power of Senegal who have won the competition on five occasions.
Uganda looked to match Senegal after the first two quarters ended the side trailing by nine points, but a second half collapse saw the side out-scored 53-24.
Ishmail Wainright who picked three fouls in the first half, struggled to breach the double team against him before ending with just eight points while missing all his four three-shot attempts.
Adam Seiko, shooting 4-of-9 from the field, contributed a team high 12 points on his debut while his brother Arthur Kaluma managed 8. Eric Zziwa scored 9 points on the losing effort.
Senegal who proved a no match for the Silverbacks, flourished on a brilliant performance from Gorgui Dieng (19), Ibrahim Faye (15) and Branco Badiou (17) as they scored 48 points in the paint.
The team will hope to bounce back against Cameroon on Friday who lost their opener against South Sudan by forfeit due to Covid19 protocols.
The match was awarded to South Sudan with a score of 20-0 after Cameroon camp registered five positive Covid19 cases.
It remains to be seen if Cameroon vs Uganda will be played as well. The Silverbacks have South Sudan on Sunday.
Rusty Uganda Run Out of Steam
Uganda lacked the sharpness and effectiveness that saw the side beat Morocco to qualify to this tournament.
The loss against an African powerhouse in Senegal was inevitable given the gap in quality and experience.
The poor preparations prior to the event will take the biggest blame however.
Coach George Galanapoulos and his technical bench will try to pick positives especially the fight in the first half and some individual brilliance.
Kaluma was impressive off the dribble while Eric Zziwa’s attacks on the basket was a thing to admire but the fact that the team collected 17 points off the bench remains a big worry.
After a competitive first half where Uganda just fell short in its quest, Senegal took over and they did so with a lot of arrogance and swag.
They picked on Uganda’s small defenders more frequently, capitalised on mismatches and battered Uganda in what later turned out to be a dunking contest among themselves.
Senegal who took control right out of the gate by leading 7-0, saw Brancou Badio throw down a dunk at the start of the third quarter to set a platform for a 13-0 run that sent the Lions to a 54-31 lead.
Uganda struggled at both ends of the floor as Senegal’s athleticism and versatility took centre stage.
Beating Senegal was going to be a big of an ask for a team that barely trained together since that win against Morocco in qualifiers.
The local based players were out of action after the NBL was called off due to reported Covid19 cases, the team arrived six days in Kigali due to finances while some foreign-based contingent arrived on the back of busy club schedules.
Uganda, at the competition for a third straight attempt, will be hoping for better showings in the next games. The top team will advance to the quarter while number and three advance to the round of 16.