Silverbacks coach Mande Juruni is pleased with the team’s training progress and expressed confidence in Uganda’s chances to qualify for the Afrobasket finals.
The Men’s basketball team of locally based players has been training at Lugogo for the last three weeks ahead of the Afrobasket Qualifiers due November 27-29 in Alexandria Egypt.
The side is under Juruni, Brian Wathum and Andrew Tendo.
“There has been a tremendous improvement from the first week and where we are now, there is a lot of progress, the players have improved a lot in terms of conditioning and also rhythm with the ball because some of the them had taken a long time without playing, and those who were working out were doing so individually, it is a bit different when you come in and train as a team. They are looking much more better,” Juruni told The-SportsNation.
“The first three weeks it was mainly conditioning and ball familiarisation, just telling the players to have that ball a little bit more, shoot a lot, run the court up and down, pass the ball more, we did that for two weeks, and that helped us with conditioning and also getting back in touch more. This last week have started the team concept and that is where we are now.
“We are still going to assess more, we still have about two and half weeks before the training camp, so at the moment, we are going to scale down to team concept and see how these guys play with each other.”
After David ‘Dikong’ Deng Kongoror pulled out, Peter Obleng from KIU Titans was added to fill the void.
In Egypt, Uganda will face off with hosts, Morocco and Cape Verde who sealed their slot in a Pre Qualification tournament in Yaounde, Cameroon last week.
This will be the first window of the Qualifiers before the second and final one in February 19-21 next year. The top three teams from a four-team group will qualify to the Afrobasket in Kigali, Rwanda due August 24 to September 5, 2021.
“Its a big test, all the four teams want to qualify. I know we have two favourites – Morocco and Egypt – But if you go in a competition, you’ve got to believe in yourself, and go out there and compete,” Juruni added.
“We have played Egypt and Morocco four to five times, and every time we play them we get closer and closer and we really compete against them. The last time we played Morocco, they worked so hard to beat us, and it was a close game. That gives us confidence when you go and play against those teams.”
Uganda has played at Afrobasket final tournament for the last two editions – 2015 in Tunisia and 2017 in Senegal/Tunisia.
“I want to believe that the experience we have got playing the best and tough teams in Africa, not only Egypt and Morocco but also Nigeria, Angola and Senegal, we have had good test and I think the players should be confident going in there,” Juruni added.
To join Uganda’s group, Cape Verde beat Chad 90-73 before overcoming South Sudan 91-85 on Friday last week.
Juruni added: “Cape Verde is a good basketball team, they were dominant in their qualifiers but we knew that they were going to come out because we have seen them play in Afrobasket, and we were here watching the game with the boys and we like our chances and I really think we have a big chance to qualify.”
From the 12 NBL players at Lugogo, six will be selected to join the six foreign legion in Alexandria, Egypt alongside coach George Galanopoulos.
The Silverbacks are expected to fly out on November 12, 2020 if all goes according to plan.