Sunday, February 18
*Kenya 🇰🇪 64-30 South Sudan
*Egypt 🇪🇬 74-65 Uganda 🇺🇬
Uganda Women’s National basketball team, the Gazelles, missed out on a chance to qualify for 2023 FIBA Women Afrobasket after falling to Egypt in a Zone Five Championship final on Sunday at Lugogo.
The Gazelles, needing a win to qualify for Afrobasket in Kigali due July/August this year, lost 74-65 in front of a sale-out crowd.
Uganda trailed right from tip-off and despite having some good moments when they led in the second and third quarters, they failed to find the legs to go a distance.
And there was no fairytale ending for the Gazelles who had beaten Egypt 86-85 earlier in the week during the group games.
Raneem Elgedawy racked up 19 points and 12 rebounds, Radwa Salem added 16 while the experienced Soraya Deghady was once again a joy to watch, contributing 11 points to the victory.
Brenda Ekone has scored 17 of her 25 points in the first two quarters to give the Gazelles a fighting stance, but the side failed to sustain the effort in the second half.
Jannon Otto filled the stat sheet with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists but it proved not enough to steer the Gazelles through.
And Gazelles’ wait to play at Afrobasket again continues since 2015 when they returned to the Continental stage for the first time since her debut in 1997 in Kenya.
Gazelles Wheels Fall Off
Despite a slow start, Uganda had kept Egypt within touching distance as the Gazelles trailed by just two points at the long break.
The Gazelles continued to move toe-to-toe with Egypt in the third quarter as the lead exchanged hands.
But when Meral Abdelgawad laid up to restore Egypt’s two point lead (47-45) with three minutes to go in the third quarter, the Pharaohs never relinquished their advantage thereafter.
The Gazelles struggled to put up a swarming defence to snuff out the offensive threat of Egypt in the last quarter.
But most importantly, the team went blunt on the offensive end as Egypt built their lead.
Trailing by nine points midway through the fourth quarter, the Gazelles shot an ugly 0-for-6 from the field until the final buzzer!
In fact, besides Flavia Oketcho’s three and Ekone’s lay up, the Gazelles failed to find a basket in open play in the last quarter of the game.
Maria Najjuma lacked game awareness despite picking a double double of 12 points and as many rebounds.
Otto picked her fourth foul in the third quarter and played with caution from thereafter, while Rita Imanishimwe had a bad night after shooting 1-for-8 from the field.
Coach Albert Antuna was animated throughout, as he kept protesting most calls that went against his side.
He rotated around seven players, including Evelyn Nakiyingi who commanded just less than five minutes – and consequently, the team fetched just four points off the bench against Egypt’s 35!
The Gazelles will feel they could have done better on the night, and it’s truly founded having edged this very team on Wednesday.
And the final buzzer was greeted by wild celebrations from the Egyptian side, sparking contrast memories back in 2014 when Uganda beat this side to qualify for 2015 Afrobasket in Yaounde, Cameroon.
It’s qualification for Egypt who will be playing at the Continent for a 14th time. They have won the Afrobasket twice in 1966 and 1968 and have clinched Silver twice in 1970 and 1977.