Thursday, February 18
*Cape Vs Morocco, 1pm
*Uganda Vs Egypt, 10pm
Uganda’s men senior basketball team, the Silverbacks, will open their second window of the 2021 FIBA Afrobasket Qualifiers against giants Egypt in Monastir, Tunisia.
Uganda lost 96-77 to Egypt in November’s first window last year in Alexandria but subsequent victories against Morocco and Cape Verde saw the side finish second with a 2-1 record.
After Egypt, the Silverbacks will face Morocco on Saturday before Cape Verde the following day – The team needs just one win to qualify for this year’s FIBA Afrobasket Championship due 24 August to 5 September in Kigali, Rwanda.
Uganda has been in Monastir since February 4 and coach George Galanapolous said that “we are getting better every single day” ahead of tip-off.
The team will bank on their underdog status to stun Egypt as they target for a third straight return at the continental stage.
The Silverbacks finished 15th at the 2015 Afrobasket and 13th in 2017.
Ishmail Wainwright To Determine Silverbacks Ceiling
Uganda’s forward Ishmail Wainwright was without doubt the player of the first window.
He was the beating heart of the team, averaging 21.3 points per game, 8.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists to lift the Silverbacks.
Turning out for SIG Strasbourg, Ish will be targeted by Egypt to stop the Silverbacks at both sides of the court.
However, his perseverance and experience makes him a difficult player to handle and will be expected to cause all sorts of trouble for the opponents.
Uganda produced three players in the top 10 highest points scorers in the first window – With Robinson Opong and Jimmy Enabu joining Ish on the list.
Ish might be the heart of the team but captain Enabu is the brain while Opong will be asked to replicate his first window heroics where he averaged 19 points per game.
Opong caught fire against Morocco, scoring a game high 29 points.
Arthur Kaluma should better be good as advertised, he is the latest addition and alongside Caesar Kizito and Fayed Bbale, will be eying for his debut.
Eric Rwahwire (Hamilton Honey Badgers) and Deng Geu (Horsens) will be required to step up their efforts this time round at the Salle Mohammed Mzali Arena.
Uganda’s biggest worry will be the defense after the side shipped in 284 points in the first window.
Coach Galanopoulos will be hoping to have a full fit squad, but the team’s Covid19 results remain unknown per press time.
Can Uganda Match the Pharaohs?
Uganda matched up with Egypt for the largest part of the game, including leading the first quarter 24-21, before a couple of turnovers down the stretch saw the side suffer a fourth quarter collapse of 29-16 to lose 94-77.
The whole of the first window, Uganda averaged 90.7 points per game against Egypt’s 95.3, had 37.7 rebounds per game against Egypt’s 38.7 and 23.3 assists per game against Egypt’s 27.3. Close.
This was Uganda who played without two players – Joseph Ikong and Emmanuel Mugenga – who had suffered injuries.
For Egypt, they return for the second window without Amr Abdelhalim who averaged 14 points, best tally on the team.
However, Anas Mahmoud, Ahmed Metway and Ehab Saleh will still look unstoppable.
The side has beefed up their squad with the addition of Haythem Khalifa who missed the first window, plus Ahmed Khalaf.
They have won 10 from as many friendlies in preparation for this window, including victories over Rwanda and Madagascar.
Egypt are all but in Rwanda, and will look to seal their place at the finals for a 24th time!
They have won the Afrobasket on five occasions – 1962, 1964, 1970, 1975 and 1985.