Tuesday, August 24
*Tunisia 82-46 Guinea
*Central African Republic 56-72 Egypt
*Rwanda 82-68 D.R. Congo
*Angola 71-77 Cape Verde (overtime)
Wednesday, August 25
*Nigeria vs Mali, 1pm
*Cameroon vs South Sudan, 4pm
*Senegal Vs Uganda, 7pm
*Ivory Coast Vs Kenya, 10pm
Uganda get their 2021 FIBA Afrobasket campaign underway on Wednesday in a pulsating Group D encounter against African powerhouse Senegal at the magnificent Kigali Arena in Rwanda.
Uganda’s national men basketball team, the Silverbacks, are making their third straight appearance at Afrobasket – an equal of football’s Africa Cup of Nations – after 2015 and 2017 appearances.
It has been a bumpy ride for Uganda to qualify for this year’s event – Pitted in Group E in the qualifiers, the team showed resolve with back-to-back wins against Morocco and Cape Verde after opening with a loss to Egypt in the first window in November last year.
However, Uganda’s qualification was under immense threat during the second round in February this year after the team registered five positive Covid19 cases and was consequently sent packing back home just hours to their first game in Tunisia.
The team was later given a lifeline when FIBA rescheduled their second round games.
Uganda, needing one win to qualify, beat Morocco in July at their own backyard to qualify to Afrobasket.
It was a big milestone for the players and a commendable achievement for the Federation (FUBA) who had to borrow money to fund the Morocco trip after Government (NCS) had turned down their plea.
It has been back-and-forth between FUBA and NCS since then as the basketball body pleaded for funds to prepare the team for Afrobasket in Rwanda.
FUBA, in fact, had to cancel a planned training camp in Cairo Egypt as a result of no finances. And to make matters worse, the team barely held a training session in Uganda as FUBA kept on waiting for Government interventions.
The fitness levels of the five local based players on the team has been a major doubt as the National Basketball League was called off in early June by NCS due to Covid19 related issues.
- Henry Malinga on playing at 2015 Afrobasket and Uganda’s chances in Kigali
- Financial Plight Notwithstanding, what do the Silverbacks take to Kigali?
- Silverbacks Keeping heads high amidst adversity
Fast forward, the Federation was handed the funds six days to the tournament, and FUBA President Nasser Sserunjogi confirmed that he channeled the money to pay back the money lender who funded the team’s trip to Cairo. The Federation had to borrow again to take the team to Kigali.
In Kigali, the team was subjected to a three-day quarantine and have trained as many days prior to Wednesday’s tip off.
The team has played two friendlies in the Kigali Arena – They lost to Central Africa Republic before beating Kenya in preparations for the event.
Arthur Kaluma and Deng Geu trained on Tuesday but the same cannot be said of Ishmail Wainright who only watched a film session.
Silverbacks Confident Nonetheless
Silverbacks coach George Galanopoulos is positive but rallied his troops to give their all at both ends of the court.
“Defensively, we got to use the speed a little bit more by applying ball pressure, we are going to make sure that we are altering what the other team is doing offensively based on how they are pressuring the basketball,” coach Galanapoulos said.
“We are a small team so we have to make sure that when we guard in the post, its not a one man job, its a multiple.
“Offensively we have to play with more space and we have to move the ball a little bit better. He fits exactly on what we are trying to do in both ends of the floor. Everybody has to be ready and everybody needs to understand his roles.”
Assistant coach Mande Juruni expressed the readiness of the team and added that they respect Senegal but do no fear Senegal.
Juruni: “We have come a long way to reach this stage, we can play and compete with anyone in Africa. There is no longer that fear of facing the big boys. And we have believe that we are going to put on a good show. We want to make a good run in in this tournament.”
Uganda Banking on Ishmail Wainright
The towering Edy Tavares shattered the glass board as Cape Verde beat Angola 77-71 in Overtime in the day’s last game on Tuesday at the Kigali Arena.
Uganda’s forward and Ishmail Wainright quickly tweeted in series: “He broke it. Me next me next”
There is a lot of hunger and readiness in the tweets of a player who recently signed for 2019 NBA Champions Toronto Taptors.
Wainright, fresh from the recently concluded NBA Summer League, jetted in on Monday and has not trained with the team as a whole in Rwanda.
However, his ability is never in doubt and will determine the Silverbacks ceiling. He drilled in a 11-point and 12-rebound double double as Uganda stunned Morocco on July 8 in Rabat to qualify for the 2021 FIBA Afrobasket Championship.
In the first window of the same qualifiers, the American-born forward averaged 21.3 points as Uganda won two of three games in November last year.
Youngster Arthur Kaluma who scored a game-high 20 points and five rebounds on his Silverbacks debut against Morocco, will be another star man to watch alongside his brother Adam Seiko.
*Uganda’s match against Senegal on Wednesday will be the team’s eighth game at Afrobasket since the country made her debut in 2015.
- Uganda has won one game (Vs Zimbabwe, 2017) and lost the other seven at Afrobasket competition.
Senegal In Search For Elusive Sixth Afrobasket Title
Only Angola (with 11), have won more Afrobasket titles than Senegal in history of the competition.
Nicknamed the Lions, Senegal have won the competition five times – 1968, 1972, 1978, 1980 and 1997, joint second with Egypt.
Ivory Coast, Tunisia and Central Africa Republic have won it twice.
The bad news for Senegal is that they have failed to win the title at least once in the last ten attempts, including in 2005 when they lost to Angola in the final.
In 2017, the last time the competition was played, Senegal were eliminated by Nigeria at the semis despite impressing in a group that had Egypt, Mozambique and South Africa.
To reach the 2021 Afrobasket in Kigali, Senegal began their Group B campaign with a commanding 92-54 win over Kenya 92-54.
They went on to top the group and qualified having lost one game (Vs Angola) on the last day of the qualifiers and will be making their 29th appearance.
Coach Boniface Ndong will be riding on the experience of NBA player Gorgui Dieng to see the side through.
Probable Lineups (Starting Fives):
Uganda – Jimmy Enabu, Tonny Drilleba, Robinson Opong, Deng Geu, Ishmail Wainright
Senegal – Henry Pierria, Francou Badio, Maurice Ndour, Youssoupha Ndoye, Gorgui Dieng
How To Watch:
- The games will be broadcast live on StarTimes. You can also watch them on Sanyuka TV (Next Media) and Wan Luo TV (Vision Group).
- For those living outside Uganda, you can also access the games on beIN SPORTS and Canal Plus.
- You can stream as well using the Livebasketball.tv ( www.livebasketball.tv/home ) but after paying subscription.
- Follow updated on The-SportsNation social media.