Tuesday February 27 2018

Silverbacks rout of Rwanda salvages World Cup campaign

Big leap. Jimmy Enabu’s stock continues to rise

Big leap. Jimmy Enabu’s stock continues to rise in the aftermath of back to back successful seasons both with the national team (Silverbacks) and club (City Oilers). FILE PHOTO  

By Elvis Senono

Zone v basketball
Uganda 86-102 Nigeria
Uganda 76-79 Mali
Uganda 79-63 Rwanda

After two successive defeats to Nigeria and Mali, the Silverbacks’ World Cup qualification campaign threatened to suffer a stillbirth.

The national basketball team lost 102-86 Nigeria before the 79-76 reverse to hosts Mali at the death offered a test of their character going into the subsequent game against Rwanda.

Luckily, recent meetings between the two countries favoured Uganda who had won the previous two games.
That pattern continued with the Silverbacks going on to pick a 79-63 victory on Sunday to remain in the reckoning for qualification to the next round.

“It’s the only chance we had to get our campaign back on track. We were very close to winning Mali but we didn’t have time to dwell on that and the boys were very focused,” coach Mandy Juruni offered.
The result was enough to lift Uganda into second position just ahead of Mali and Rwanda.

Belief against Rwanda
“The effort was right. We had belief that we could beat Rwanda. We were in control of the game early and that kept us going. It puts us in a good position to be number two. But the work has just begun,” Juruni added.

Robinson Odoch and Jimmy Enabu led the Silverbacks with 20 and 18 points respectively, the latter underlining his emergence at this level.
Enabu averaged 18 points in the three games while Odoch continued his good form with 21 in the same sequence.

Ahead of the return leg in June, Uganda will however have to improve their front court with first choice centre Brandon Sebirumbi struggling offensively averaging four points and less than four rebounds.

The top three teams from each of the four groups after the return leg will then be divided into two groups of six teams each.

The top two teams from the groups and the best third placed team will then take up the five slots available to the continent for the 2019 World Cup in China.