Friday, November 26
*Cape Verde 79-71 Nigeria
*Mali 76-66 Uganda
Saturday, November 27
*Nigeria Vs Mali
*Uganda Vs Cape Verde – 10pm
Uganda opened their FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers campaign on a wrong note after a 76-66 loss to Mali on Friday in Benguela, Angola.
The Silverbacks struggled all game long with ball security, racking up 27 turnovers and will rue this recklessness with the ball in the loss.
Mali got out of the blocks early and made their intentions known right from the start in a game Uganda chased from the beginning until the end.
The Mandy Juruni’s charges staged rallies in some stretches but were kept at arms length by Mali who have recorded their third straight win against Uganda from as many games including their double header victory in 2019 World Cup Qualifiers.
Brandon Davies shot 9-of-19 from the field to fill the stat sheet with 24 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.
Titus Lual (12) and Eric Rwahwire (11) reached double digits but the rest struggled as Uganda failed to find rhythm and chemistry.
The Barcelona Forward, who also turned over five times, was big at both ends and made a couple of individual highlights including a Lebron James-esque chase down to block Mali’s Siriman Kanoute at the glass.
Uganda outrebounded Mali 44-42 but the West African side managed to punish Uganda at every opportunity to get their campaign up and running.
Juruni will be hoping for better days ahead after missing Robinson Opong and Ben Komakech on the matchday squad but he will be aware that there is less room for error as Uganda prepare to face Cape Verde (Saturday) and Nigeria (Sunday).
Uganda’s lack of coordination can be understandable after the team’s training program was cut short by limited resources and late arrival in Angola but the Boys, amidst some lacklustre performances here and there, remained in the contest until Mali started to break away down the stretch.
Debutant Emmanuel Timothy Womala failed to impress and his three pointer came in the third quarter after collecting from Jimmy Enabu.
Fayed Bbale was thrown into the contest for his first game as well, and he made his introduction known with a pin-point assist to his UCU Canons teammate Titus Lual who easily brought it down from inside the paint.
Jimmy Enabu looked colourful for extended stretches but his four turnovers erased his contribution while James Okello failed to exert authority in the game where he was needed to help when Brandon Davies was called to the bench to have a breather.
Brandon got Uganda’s first points on board with his trademark dunk but Mali were aggressive on their way to open a double-digit gap halfway through the first quarter.
Davies scored six of Uganda’s nine points in the first quarter which Uganda trailed 17-9 and he was responsible for the assist to open Titus Lual Odeke who nailed a good three.
Tonny Drilleba opened the second quarter with a three as the score read 17-12, and after a couple of exchanges, Eric Rwahwire nailed a corner three, Fayed assisted Titus while Brandon superbly shot from deep but Mali were 12 of 42 from the field to lead 36-30 at the long break.
Brandon converted onlynone of his two three throws and he later nailed a three as Uganda tried to give herself a fighting stance.
But Uganda were pegged back every time they tried to return into the contest and Mali showed character before sealing off a deserved result.