Lumanyika elevates to new level, Egypt wait

Tuesday September 23 2014


KAMPALA. Had Brandon Ssebirumbi made it for the Fiba Africa Zone V Nations Basketball Championship, Ivan Lumanyika may have been living on the edge.
That one of the foreign-based players couldn’t make it thrust the UCU Canons’ centre into an unfamiliar role of leadership. He grabbed into with both hands and one heart.
Playing alongside veteran Henry Malinga, Lumanyika played one of his best games for a commanding 11 points and 15 rebounds as Uganda beat Somalia 85-74 in Sunday night’s opener.
Inside a packed Lugogo MTN Arena, Lumanyika fed off Malinga’s brilliance worth 16 and seven rebounds to become the factor for the Silverbacks.
“I am taking it as my responsibility to play well,” Lumanyika said. “My teammates were boxing out so I got so many loose balls.” That inside game gave Uganda a dominant presence against one of the star teams.
“We were outstanding,” point guard Josh Johnson, four points and four assists, said. “We wanted to win.”
Lumanyika has gone from probably being down the pecking order behind Ssebirumbi, Sam Gombya and Brian Ssentogo to earning his place.
“Our biggies put Somalia in trouble and gave us an inside game,” coach Mandy Juruni added. The game was 66-58 after three periods only for the hosts to boss the opening exchanges of the fourth.
Juruni’s side opened up an 81-65 lead and also limited Faisal Aden to 20 points, with John Balwigaire doing a tremendous job defensively.
“I think we came into the game knowing what Somalia is capable of and what Faisal is capable of doing. He can score 40, 50 or 60 points so it was a group effort,” Johnson explained. After yesterday’s rest day, the much bigger Egyptians and event favourites are Uganda’s next opponents today. The champions whipped Rwanda 79-63 in the opener.
“Hopefully, in the next game I will keep improving,” Lumanyika said. “Hopefully, we bring the same intensity on defence,” Johnson added. Earlier, the women’s team lost 61-65 to Egypt despite Sharon Karungi’s game-high 23 points and Claire Lamunnu’s 17.