Empty arena could assist  Silverbacks in Alexandria

Thursday November 26 2020
basket01pix

Drileba goes for the hoop as Michael Buzangu looks to stop him during a national trial match at Lugogo. PHOTO/ISMAIL KEZAALA

By ISMAIL KIGONGO


The national basketball team, Silverbacks, may now be able to show a newcomer their way around the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
They have been camped there for close to a fortnight preparing for the Afrobasket qualifying tournament tipping off tomorrow at the Ittihad Sports Club.

Surely, they have not won over any local fans. Even then, that proverbial sixth man will be absent as the event will be played behind closed doors due to the Coronavirus pandemic. “I honestly think it is good for us - takes away Egypt’s and Morocco’s Arab home advantage,” team manager Albert Ahabwe told Daily Monitor yesterday.

The teams, including Uganda’s contingent, had their third Covid-19 test on Tuesday. Results were not available by press time. Two tests done prior cleared the entire team. Besides hosts Egypt, Uganda are drawn in group E of the qualifiers alongside Morocco and Cape Verde. All four teams will now enter the tournament ‘bubble’.

Nasser Sserunjogi, the Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations (Fuba) president, will join the team today having stayed behind to tie up a few loose ends financially. On the technical front, coach George Galanopoulous, assisted by Mandy Juruni and Andrew Tendo, exudes confidence that a third appearance in the Afrobasket is a real possibility.

“This squad is a lot bit deeper,” Galanopoulous said. “We have many returning players both local and foreign-based, and a couple of new faces as well.

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“We have a little bit more shooting and versatility. I am excited to see how the style of play will fit this personnel and vice versa.”
They will spend part of today dissecting what the opposition possess and all three are likely to target Uganda as the soft target.

This will be the first window of the qualifiers before the second round next February implying that Silverbacks, like the rest, need a minimum of one victory.

The top three teams from the group will automatically qualify to the Fiba Afrobasket 2021 to be held in Rwanda. Hosts Egypt are five-time African champions.

 Morocco are 1965 champions and reached the semi-finals at Afrobasket in 2017. Cape Verde, by virtue of coming through the pre-qualifiers, will be viewed as underdogs and will be largely unknown quantities.

AFROBASKET

THE FIXTURES
Tomorrow 

Egypt vs. Uganda, 6.30pm

Saturday 
Uganda vs. Morocco. 6.30pm

Sunday 
Cape Verde vs. Uganda, 6.30pm

THE SQUAD
Ben Komakech, 
Tony Drileba, 
Jimmy Enabu (captain), Joseph Ikong, 
James Okello, 
Stanley Mugerwa, 
Titus Lual Odeke, 
Emmanuel Mugenga, 
Ishmail Wainwright, 
Robinson Opong, 
Eric Rwahire, 
Deng Geu

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