Afrobasket: Gazelles Suffer Narrow Defeat Against Mali

Gazelles’ Jannon Otto (with the ball) in action against Mali at Afrobasket. (FIBA photos)

Friday, July 28
โ€ขMali 80-66 Uganda

Uganda Women’s National Basketball team, the Gazelles, lost 66-80 to Mali in their opening game of the 2023 FIBA Women Afrobasket in Kigali, Rwanda.

The score-line may look deceptive as the Gazelles really gave Mali, Africa’s number two, a good run for their money.

But Uganda, who led 19-16 after the first quarter, will have themselves to blame in a game they could have done better.

Making a return to the Afrobasket after an eight-year wait, the Gazelles failed to handle the pressure on the big stage, made a couple of errors littered with reckless turnovers as the team struggled to overcome Mali’s high court press.

But they remained in the game throughout, played positively, defended at every opportunity and were animated just like head coach Albert Antuna who was later ejected for his second technical foul with 3 minutes to spare.

Jannon Otto, despite a score-less second quarter, finished with a team high 19 points while Brenda Ekone and Claire Lamunu added 12 and 10 points respectively.

Djeneba N’Diaye garnered a game-high 25 points before Fatoumata Sanou contributed 15 points in the Mali victory.

It was a spirited performance for the Gazelles, a team littered with debutants, and before tip-off, only captain Flavia Oketcho had played at Afrobasket before.

Next up on Saturday is 11-time champions Senegal, who will prove a bigger stumbling block than Mali.

Uganda, who lost to Mali 55-73 back in 2015 Afrobasket, will hope to rectify mistakes despite less time from now until the Senegal game on Saturday.

But the overall performance is a statement to many that the Gazelles will not be kneeling down to anyone anymore.

Despite Uganda’s visible struggles on offensive boards, they picked more rebounds, 56 against Mali’s 51 overall.

But Mali scored 20 points off Uganda’s turnovers in the first half in a game Uganda gave away possession 31 times against Mali’s 17.

Its strong to remember that the top team in each group will advance directly to the Quarter-Finals.

The teams ranked second (2nd) and third (3rd) will play the qualification round for the Quarter-Finals.



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