No Komakech as Silverbacks embark on WC preparations

Tuesday January 30 2018

Tight defence: Uganda point guard Ben Komakech

Tight defence: Uganda point guard Ben Komakech (left) locking out Egypt’s Mouhanad El-Sabagh in a Zone V basketball tournament at Lugogo four years ago. PHOTO BY ISMAIL KEZAALA  

By Elvis Senono

Kampala. For three years, anyone associated with domestic basketball has longed for Ben Komakech to rediscover the form that saw him win the 2008 and 2010 National Basketball League MVP accolades.
The City Oilers guard who underwent surgery with the hope of curing long standing knee problems has however only shown flashes of his old self, playing a bit part role as his club sauntered to the last two league titles.

During that period, national team selectors also kept faith in the player famed for his ice cold shooting and playmaking.
That patience however seems to have run out finally after he was omitted from the Silverbacks’ 13-man list of domestic players that started preparations yesterday ahead of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers.

City Oilers teammate Tony Drileba whose has rise coincided with Komakech’s decline will be among the players tested ahead of the qualifiers in Bamako, Mali from February 23-25.
The team also includes two other players who have previously not been part of the national team set up - Derrick Isiko (UCU Canons) Henry Okoth (UPDF) both making the Silverbacks grade.

The trio joins an established cast that includes ageless captain Stephen Omony and City Oilers club mates James Okello and Jonah Otim.
The latter who was initially expected to travel abroad is a late replacement for Geoffrey Soro who opted out.
Also on the list is guard Samuel Mukooza, who was previously based in Sweden but is without a club and played for the Silverbacks at the 2015 Afrobasket.

Coaches Mandy Juruni, Brian Wathum and Nicholas Natuhereza will consequently select players that will join the foreign-based crew of Robinson Odoch, Darius Pegues, Stanley Ocitti and Samuel Kalwanyi.
Uganda is placed in Group B alongside hosts Mali, Rwanda and Nigeria in the 16-team qualifiers divided into groups of four.
The top three teams from each of the four groups qualify for the next stage.