We Have To Play Hard, Smart – Claire Lamunu

Gazelles Fixture at Afrobasket
•July 29: Mali
•July 30: Senegal

Gazelles Power Forward Claire Lamunu says they have to play hard and smart if they are to have a chance against top teams at 2023 FIBA Afrobasket.

Lamunu joined the team camped at Onomo Hotel on Sunday and was part of Monday’s morning training session at Africa Bible University.

She was the remaining member, of the 12-player Squad set to leave for Kigali on Tuesday/Wednesday, yet to arrive.

She revealed that she was delayed by her tight work commitments, before revealing her excitement to finally join the team.

Just like the rest of the group besides Captain Flavia ‘Flirsh’ Oketcho, Lamunu has never played at Afrobasket before.

Aged 30, Lamunu’s experience on the National team will come in handy in a Gazelles squad littered with youngsters.

“This is a very young group, very talented new players and they bring a lot on the table and its just nice to play with this calibre of players and see what we can do as a country,” Lamunu told The-SportsNation.

“The new kids bring a lot of energy and that’s the beauty of having a young team, it’s good to have that balance, the bulk of the team is in their early 20s and that’s great because it shows we have a bright future as well.

Lamunu last played competitively back in 2021 with Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) at the FIBA Zone V Club Qualifiers and questions about her fitness have been a major concern.

“Actually, I coach Basketball, a college team so I play with the Girls whom I am coaching,” Lamunu addressed the issue.

“And I play in a local league as well, though I don’t post things on social media so many people don’t know. And when we qualified for Afrobasket, I was told to get ready and I had this in mind.”

Lamunu who is a Laboratory Technician, coaches Azusa Pacific University’s Women Basketball team.

The former KCCA Leopards forward left Uganda back in 2015 after she was awarded a four-year scholarship at Vanguard University.

She has since had stints in Portugal and Finland, and locally, her path include Gulu Hawks in 2008 before moving to Gladiators in 2012 and later signing for KCCA in 2013.

Having played in big arenas and bigger stages before, Lamunu is looking forward to compete at Afrobasket for the very first time.

She was part of the Gazelles team that won the qualifiers in 2014, but left to the United States and missed the chance to compete at the 2015 Afrobasket tournament.

“Afrobasket is a very big stage and biggest you can have in Africa. I was on the team that qualified in 2015 but I left to go to College so I never got my chance to go to Afrobasket and so I am excited to be part of the team and do it right now.”

“Earlier this year, I was very anxious following the Qualifiers (Zone V at Lugogo), I followed every single game, it was fun and it was really good to see especially I loved the support the team was shown right from management, media and fans and everyone that came together, it was really great to watch Women basketball be supported.”

Uganda open the campaign on July 29 against 2007 Champions Mali who are playing at this stage for a 19th time!

Then the following day, the Gazelles will face off with 11-time record winners Senegal!

“We are definitely going to be underdogs given the sides we are going to face, but with preparations that we have had, and the fact that we are going to be five people against five, we have to bring our best and we cannot afford to make more mistakes and see how far that takes us.

“The tournament will give us an opportunity for us to showcase what we can do, but we have to play very smart and hard to compete against them because they are very good.”

If Uganda lose both of their group games, they will face the second placed team in Group D that has Nigeria, Egypt and DR Congo.



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