Gazelles hold nerve to clinch thriller

Small forward Jannon Jaye Otto posts up against Egypt's Raneem Elgedawy in the closely contested Fiba Afrobasket qualifying game. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Jannon Otto scored 22 first half points to lead Uganda’s offensive exploits.

The national women’s basketball team, Gazelles, are back on course in the Fiba Zone V Afrobasket Qualifiers after a nervy 86-85 win against Egypt at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium Wednesday night.

Alberto Antuna’s charges are now right back in the mix of making the top two.

For a team that had their backs against the wall after that opening 61-53 loss to Kenya exactly 24 hours earlier, victory over South Sudan tonight could be enough to put Uganda in the top two.

The top two sides will face off in the decider for the lone ticket to AfroBasket.

Anutuna made changes to his starting line-up, Brenda Ekone and Evelyne Nakiyingi replacing Ritah Imanishimwe and Flavia Oketcho respectively.

Ekone was a handful for the Egyptians all night.

Dig deep

Raneem Elgedawy and Soraia Deghady led Egypt’s early charge and had 13 and six points respectively in the first quarter.

Rita Imanishimwe’s connection from downtown cut the deficit six points (28-22) after the first ten minutes.

Egypt made light work of Uganda’s zone defense early in the game shooting five of 11 from beyond the perimeter in just the first quarter.

Uganda led 31-28 to force Egypt into a timeout with 6.30 left on the clock in the second quarter.

Hope Akello’s jump shot gave Uganda a 10-point lead  with 4.21 on the clock.

The Gazelles took a 12-point advantage into the locker room (50-38) and had Egypt concerned for a moment.

Jannon Otto scored 22 first half points to lead Uganda’s offensive exploits.

Meral Abdelgawad opened the third frame with two quick threes as Egypt started a comeback.

When Elgedawy connected from range to cut Uganda's lead to just three points, Antuna needed a time out.

Imanishimwe’s three-pointer and Oketcho’s pair from the free throw line gave Uganda a 72-61 advantage going into the last ten minutes.

Power forward Maria Najjuma, 10 points, fouled out with 7.52 left on the game and Uganda leading 76-64.

The Gazelles led 86-81 after Ekone made one of her two free throws with 1.07 left on the clock.

With 47.8 seconds left, Ekone failed to inbound and Egypt closed the gap to a single point.

It took Uganda’s tough defense to deny Egyptians a bucket that would have broken the hearts of the partisan crowd.

Meanwhile today’s opponents South Sudan beat Rwanda 54-40 for their first ever competitive win in the day’s first game. 

Fiba Women’s Zone V Afrobasket Qualifiers

Wednesday results

Rwanda 40-54 South Sudan

Egypt 86-85 Egypt

Playing Thursday 

Kenya vs. Rwanda -5pm

Uganda vs. South Sudan -8pm