Heroic Silverbacks Return After Eventful Stay In Kigali

Uganda men’s national basketball team, the Silverbacks, are back in the country after their valiant effort at the concluded 2021 FIBA Afrobasket in Kigali, Rwanda.

The team of locally based players jetted in on Monday night, 11:30pm, aboard Uganda Airlines.

The Silverbacks, whose preparations prior to the tournament were marred by financial hardships, managed to overcome obstacles to reach the quarterfinals, their best finish ever.

After finishing third in Group D, Uganda beat Nigeria in the playoff round before falling to a resolute Cape Verde and eventually ended with a 2-3 mark and a respectable seventh place finish.

Back in the country – photo by Issa Mapengo

Uganda’s tournament journey ended on September 2nd but prolonged their stay in Kigali.

During their stay, the team visited Genocide Memorial in Rwanda to commemorate and pay respect to the lives that were lost during the 1994 Genocide.

The players visited the Genocide memorial. FUBA photo

On Monday, the team was hosted to a farewell luncheon at the Uganda High Commission in Kigali.

At the commission, the team led by FUBA President Nasser Sserunjogi, was welcomed by Deputy Head of Mission Ms. Anne Katusiime who commended their effort at the tournament.

Silverbacks at the High Commission. UHC photos

The foreign-based players had left earlier besides Robinson Opong and Eric Rwahwire who seperated from the team at Kigali Airport and headed to Canada.

The Curious Case of Hotel Bills

Midway through the tournament, FUBA President Nasser Sserunjogi revealed the dire situation the team was in.

Sserunjogi stated that Uganda risked being thrown out of the tournament because of unpaid bills.

The team was accommodated in Kigali on credit as they had promised FIBA and the host that money would eventually come.

The team had been given an ultimatum of until Sunday the 29th to clear all the outstanding dues or else are kicked out of the tournament, a date that had already by the time Sserunjogi made the revelation.

In a statement, Sserunjogi asked for the government to “bail us out.”

After the loss to Cape Verde, news spilled out on social media that the team had been denied exit from the hotel due to unpaid bills.

Furthermore, the Hotel stated that Ferwaba (Rwanda Basketball Federation) had already cleared the bills while other reports pointed to Rwanda President Paul Kagame had paid the bills.

FUBA later revealed that General Muhoozi had bailed the team out.

The Federation, in a statement on September 3, added: “the team has been staying at Park Inn Radisson hotel where we have been treated amazingly well. The Federation of Rwanda Basketball Association has been very nice and kind to us. They have given us first class treatement. Please kindly disresgard the information making rounds on social media that our team has been refused to exit park Inn hotel until we clear our bills.

“We have not had any issues whatsoever from Hotel manegemenr or authorites here in kigali. Our Hotel bills have been fully settled.”



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