Silverbacks captain Jimmy Enabu says that they are “dying” to return to Afrobasket, a continental basketball championship contested by senior national teams in Africa.
Uganda target a third straight appearance at the continental stage having made their debut in 2015 after coming second in Zone Five championship held in 2014 in Kampala.
Consequently, the Silverbacks finished 15th at the finals in Tunisia and later returned to the event two years later where they improved by two places in a tourney hosted by Senegal and Tunisia.
Since then, the tourney is played every after four years and the first will be hosted by Kigali, Rwanda later this year.
It was originally scheduled to take place August 17-29 2021, before it was moved back a week due to the Covid19, to August 24 – September 5, 2021.
Fourteen of 16 teams have already confirmed their tickets. In fact, the draws were held on 28 May 2021, with two places still up for grabs.
That is possible after Uganda’s games in Group E qualifiers were called off in February when five positive Covid19 cases were discovered in team’s camp just hours before the Uganda Vs Egypt game in the second window held in Tunisia.
The other Group E games were played and Egypt managed to top the group and hence qualify for a 24th time!
FIBA Africa decided to postpone the games and on March 2, the ruling basketball body announced the rescheduling of Uganda’s games. Much to the relief of the basketball fraternity in Uganda.
“FIBA did good to give us an opportunity to compete,” Enabu told The-SportsNation. “What happened to us with the covid 19 situation could have happened to any other team.”
“We are grateful that we have another opportunity to play.”
Three out of four teams from each group qualify to the Afrobasket – Meaning that Cape Verde (1-4), Morocco (1-4) and Uganda (2-3) will be fighting for the remaining two slots.
Uganda face Morocco on July 15 in a winner takes it all encounter, and the Silverbacks who had Covid19 tests on Thursday, will be leaving on the weekend for a 10-day camp in Morocco in preparation for the encounter.
Enabu adds: “Beating Morocco will mean that we qualify for Afrobasket, that’s how important it is. Winning the game is doable, we have already built something good as a team. The next 10 days together can only make us better.”
Enabu who scored 16 points, three assist and two rebounds against Morocco in Alexandria last year, is aware of the task ahead. He says that Morocco is “a good team” with a “good blend of young and old players.”
Uganda summoned a squad of 12 for the encounter, including two additions of Keiran Zziwa and Mohammed Ghedi, from the squad that was initially in Tunisia this year.
The captain states: “We have an experienced team and players that are willing to play for one another. The new additions have young energy and I have no doubt that they will have an impact on the team.”
Beating Morocco will guarantee a third straight return to Afrobasket for Uganda, who could then afford to forfeit the other remaining Cape Verde tie.
The Oilers guard adds: “We have been to Afrobasket twice and it’s far from enough. I think it’s safe to say that the team is dying to return to the event, we feel like we belong there.”
Uganda needs one win from those two away games for a ticket to Rwanda.
Uganda can still qualify even in a worse possible scenario. The slight complex calculations – if the Silverbacks lose to both Morocco and Cape Verde by less than three points in each game, its Uganda and Cape Verde who will be through as Morocco have a poor points difference in games played between the three sides. Uganda is +7, Cape Verde is +1 while Cape Morocco is -7 in terms of points difference.
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