Beating Morocco 94-90 last November marked growth for the national basketball team, the Silverbacks. Two in a row is a habit, right?
On Thursday night, debutant Arthur Kaluma came off the bench to score 20 points, five rebounds and two steals, defeating the North Africans 77-65 in their own backyard of Sale, Rabat.
That ensured a third successive Fiba Afrobasket as the second-placed team from Group E.
Uganda, joining group leaders Egypt and taking Cape Verde along with them, will be one of the best 16 teams at Africa’s premier national team event in Kigali, Rwanda, starting on August 24.
While looking forward, this is a time to reflect on a lengthy qualification campaign that started last November when
Uganda beat Cape Verde and Morocco but lost to Egypt.
February was to provide the second window when Uganda would seal their ticket. Then, hours before their qualifying opener, part of the contingent returned positive tests for Covid-19.
They returned home not knowing their fate until Fiba Africa announced a July window that Fuba president Nasser Sserunjogi, already cash strapped, must have looked at as more of a burden.
These setbacks only made the Silverbacks’ resolve stronger.
This was a gutsy performance that saw coach George Galanapolous’ team take the lead at 5.45 minutes in the first quarter on a Robinson Odong jump-shot. They never relinquished it till the buzzer.
The Silverbacks led by as many as 13 points mid-way the third after the Moroccans had fought back to trail 31-32 at the long break.
The 1965 African champions and 1968 Olympic participants resorted to a zonal defence in a bid to extend their Afrobasket qualifying streak to 10 straight tournaments.
Uganda struggled to beat that zone but found the will to overcome it.
Guard Eric Rwahwire scored 14 points off the bench, star forward Ishmail Wainwright added 11 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. John Deng Geu had 10.
That was enough to hold off Reda Ali Harras and Abdelhakim Zouita, who had 13 points apiece.
Sense of belonging
When Uganda first qualified for the Fiba Afrobasket in 2015, it was monumental. Returning in 2017 was only a repeat. Making the 2021 edition shows that the Silverbacks belong to Class A.
However, that the national team still has to travel to play all its qualifiers emphasises the need for an arena that meets international standards here.
In the draw conducted on June 8, 2021, Uganda was placed in group D alongside four-time champions Senegal, 2007 winners Cameroon and debutants South Sudan.
Futsal Super League
Morocco 65-77 Uganda
Tournament fixtures – Group D
August 25: Senegal vs. Uganda
August 27: Cameroon vs. Uganda
August 29: South Sudan vs. Uganda
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202107100080.html
Author : Monitor
Publish date : 2021-07-10 08:44:07