Zanzibar has proved to be a good hunting ground for Ugandan teams over the past 10 days as their invites were worth more that just enjoying the ocean breeze.
In football, both URA and KCC reached the semifinals. The latter even came from 2-0 down to beat Tanzania’s Azam 3-2 to advance to today’s final against Tanzania’s Simba.
The national netball team, She Cranes, have walked a similar path, just weeks after winning the Six Nations Cup in Singapore.
While KCC and She Cranes wait to return home victorious, the national basketball team, TeamUg, has already shown the way. TeamUg beat the hosts 66-52 on Saturday for a third win in as many games to emerge as winners of the annual tournament to mark Zanzibar’s 50th independence anniversary.
Coach Mandy Juruni’s side beat Tanzania 60-40 in the tournament opener and followed it up with a 63-36 rout of Kenya.
Juruni and his side cannot take their eyes off the crystal ball - the Fiba Africa Zone V Nations Championships - to be hosted here later this year.
“Oh very important (to start preparing early). (It) shows how serious we are and how much we want to qualify,” Juruni said. “I think we have a big opportunity to do that at home.” The top two teams from the Zone V event will qualify for the Afrobasket. Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi will be favourites for those two slots. Beating a weakend Kenyan side on the island will feel like a step forward but vindication is several months away.
Guards Kassim Nangwere and Josh Johnson, based in Sweden and the UK respectively, got an outing as Fuba try to expand the options available beyond the local league.
The ‘imports’ will keep coming. Spanish-based Brandon Sebirumbi 6ft 9in, Dhal Marial 7ft 3in (US) and Kevin Okello 7ft 1in (Sweden) will join the team later in the year. “With foreign players coming in, the competition is stiff for everyone. Our local players have to step up,” Juruni added.