Mixed start to Zone Five preparations
Posted Saturday, January 5 2013 at 02:00
Basketball. Good response to practice at YMCA despite fitness concerns, absenteeism and withdrawals as national teams prepare to take on the region.
There were still things that needed ironing out as the two national teams – men and women – held their first session ahead of the Fiba Africa Zone V Nations Championship later this month.
Only nine of the 18 summoned women turned up for training at Makerere main grounds. “Some of the girls are still upcountry but they will join us soon,” said coach Timothy Odeke. They weren’t such problems for men though Norman Blick skipped training at YMCA court. The reigning MVP had informed the head coach, Mandy Juruni, that he was attending a funeral.
Guard Ivan Enabu was late. His younger Emmanuel Enabu only appeared at 6.17pm on Thursday, over an hour after the preparation for the regional tournament in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania had started.
Andrew Opio skipped due to work commitments. Withdrawals also started in earnest. Warriors’ guard Cyrus Kiviri is out due to an injury while personal reasons kept ‘big man’ Brian Ssentongo out.
Juruni, consenting with Odeke, cited unfitness as a let-down. “It has been very good. There is a bit of unfitness from a few players,” Juruni said. “Our fitness has to improve first,” Odeke concurred.
However, the response is much better than last year especially for the men’s team when practice was done at UCU in Mukono.
Beating the evening jam became a problem and each of the 12 sessions then lasted for one hour. Juruni managed to milk over three hours on the first day. Of the 18 summoned, 14 attended the first of the 12 practice sessions. The tournament is from January 21-27.
“Our training plan is good in that it’s getting us physically ready. The first three sessions are conditioning and the next three weeks will be game situations,” said Juruni.
“After that, we will try to improve on chemistry before we cut the team to 12 at the end of next week.”
Despite the growth of basketball in Uganda amidst poor preparations and inadequate funding, the national teams haven’t done well at the Zone V event since the men won it seven years ago. Juruni was in charge of the women’s team in Kigali, Rwanda last year and watched on helplessly as the men collapsed like a pack of cards, winning only once.
“Last year, I think we lost narrowly. This time, we want players to work together and be one team not competing against each other,” Juruni noted.
Having missed out last year, Emmanuel (dropped) and Ronnie Kasewu (then injured), the duo has a point to prove. “I am going to do my best to make the 12,” Emmanuel vowed.