Gazelles book Afrobasket finals ticket

The Junior Gazelles celebrate after winning a trophy that sealed qualification for the FIBA U18 African Championship. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • In the men’s category, Rwanda defeated Tanzania 84-43 to finish the tournament with a 4-0 record and book themselves the sole ticket.

The celebrations should not have waited until the last day. The Junior Gazelles had the opportunity of booking their U-18 Fifa Afrobasket ticket with victory over Rwanda on Friday.

But the young ladies chose to do it the hard way. A surprise 52-43 loss to Rwanda put Uganda in a must-win situation going into the Tanzania clash, their last game of the qualifiers.

Tanzania were back in business, level on four points with Uganda after registering two wins over Rwanda. Uganda had already beaten Rwanda and Tanzania to start the tournament.

With a relatively big crowd cheering them on inside the Lugogo Arena, the Junior Gazelles recovered from the Friday shock to defeat Tanzania 63-43 in the winner-takes-all affair and book a ticket to continental basketball.

The start was jittery for both sides but it was the home side that went on an eight-point run midway through the first quarter before taking it 16-8.

Tanzania bounced back in the second frame, going bucket-for-bucket with the hosts. The Gazelles led 30-22 with Christine Namyalo beating the buzzer from three-point range to end the first half.
Sylvia Nantongo, Mariam Namukwaya and Getrude Nyamutoro came off the bench to give Uganda offence when the starters were struggling.

Nantongo, shooting eight-of-13 from the field, got a game high 17 points while Namukwaya and Nyamutoro added 10 each, the former gathering 10 rebounds as well for Ali Mavita’s troops. None of the starters scored in double figure.

Uganda’s defence limited the neighbours and only Anjela Minja managed to get to double figures. Her 10 points and 12 rebounds, however, just not enough to book her country an Afrobasket ticket.

The Gazelles were big on the glass and out-rebounded Tanzania 67-47 to sum up their good outing.
“The girls outperformed themselves because we hardly prepared,” Mavita told Daily Monitor. “They managed to forget about what happened against Rwanda and bounced back.”

Mavita and the girls will not have much time to rest as the continental championship is set for August this year.

More time together for the team and an addition of a few more players is what the coaching staff will be hoping for but with some of the players in candidate classes, it remains to be seen how Uganda will pull this off.

In the men’s category, Rwanda defeated Tanzania 84-43 to finish the tournament with a 4-0 record and book themselves the sole ticket.

The Junior Silverbacks’ disappointing outing was compounded in a 61-48 loss on Friday. They ended the tournament with a 1-3 record and the performance left a lot to be desired.

Fiba Zone V Afrobasket

Saturday qualifier results
W -    Uganda     63-43     Tanzania
M -    Tanzania     43-84     Rwanda
Qualified team
W -    Uganda (3-1)
M -    Rwanda (4-0)