The 2019 basketball season has witnessed more involvement in the shorter version of the game, 3x3 basketball with the country earning the right to host three straight African championships among several activities.
Overall however the year has not been the most productive in international competitions for both the national teams and the clubs.
The year started with a change in guard at Fuba with Nasser Sserunjogi in February replacing Ambrose Tashobya who had been president since 2011. Sserunjogi served on Tashobya’s last executive committee having defeated Patrick Ogwel to the post of Vice President in charge of administration in 2015. He polled 37 of the 61 votes cast with Kwizera collecting 24 to lead the game over the next four years.
More importantly however the two parties agreed to work together a month later for the benefit of the domestic game. On court, the Gazelles, Uganda women’s 3x3 national team took part in the Fiba 3X3 World Cup qualifiers in Puerto Rico.
The team including Claire Lamunu, Jamilah Nansikombi, Rita Imanishimwe and Sarah Ageno missed out on qualification to the final tournament after finishing fifth, two places outside the required spots. This followed a 14-12 overtime quarterfinal loss to Brazil.
The tournament turned out to be the last international outing for Nansikombi with the Gazelles after she secured a scholarship to the USA.
She was sorely missed as the Gazelles team including Zainah Lokwameri, Brenda Ekone and Hope Akello and Ritah Imanishimwe fell at the semifinal stage to eventual champions Egypt at the Fiba 3x3 Africa Cup hosted at Lugogo.
The consequently finished third following a hard-fought 21-15 win over Nigeria with Imanishimwe later named on the three-player team of the tournament.
The Silverbacks on the other hand finished fifth after losing to 18-9 to Mali.
Meanwhile the Uganda’s U18 girls won silver and the U18 boys bronze at the well organised championship that should grow with the country also set to host the subsequent two editions. Mid this year, Uganda also took part in the Fiba AfroBasket U-16 tournament after the Junior Gazelles, the girls’ national basketball team dominated the Zone V qualifiers. The Junior Gazelles finished unbeaten in the double round robin tournament held in Kigali with Maria Najjuma averaging 33.2 rebounds and 24.5 points.
This earned her a place at the NBA Academy Africa Women’s Program Training Camp hosted by Senegal in November.
She was also named on the all-star team at the Fiba AfroBasket U-16 tournament after helping Uganda finish fifth.
The country this year also hosted the AfroCan and AfroBasket qualifiers at Lugogo where both the Silverbacks and Gazelles failed to progress after slow starts.
The men’s team Silverbacks finished third following a 77-71 defeat of Rwanda who came into the final day in contention with Kenya to qualify for the maiden edition of the AfroCan tournament.
But the damage had already been done in the opening losses to Kenya and Egypt who qualified as first and second with the latter taking the wild card slot availed by Fiba Africa. The Gazelles, the national women’s team also triumphed 68-64 also against Rwanda to finish third with Egypt defeating Kenya 90-72 to qualify as top seeds.
In the women’s club basketball, JKL Lady Dolphins will view 2019 as bittersweet for failing to secure funds to feature at the AfroBasket Championship.
This followed their remarkable triumph at the FIBA Africa Zone 5 championship at the first time of asking. The reigning women National Basketball League champions defeated Kenya’s KPA 63-56 to cap an unlikely turnaround after previously losing to the same side in the group stage of the tournament played in Tanzania.
Veteran Flavia Oketcho emerged MVP at the tournament before going on to lead JKL to become only the third team to defend the National Basketball League ladies’ title, a feat only previously managed by the Lady Bucks and UCU.
This is after they claimed a 62-55 overtime win over UCU Lady Canons in the decisive game seven that clinched a 4-3 series win.
In the men’s game City Oilers will be looking to salvage some pride when they play the final four games of the NBL playoff final against UCU Canons early next year.
The Oilers should still be reeling from failure to reach the inaugural Basketball Africa League (Bal). This is after they squandered two opportunities at the final qualifier that concluded in Kigali, Rwanda last week.