Gazelles start Zone 5 preps with new coach

Alberto Antuna (4th R) stands next Fuba Nasser Sserunjogi (holding jersey) at the unveiling. PHOTO/EMANZI NDYAMUHAKI 

What you need to know:

Antuna, a Spanish coach, who has worked with Montenegro National team as the assistant coach, admitted to knowing little about Ugandan basketball.

The senior women’s national basketball team, the Gazelles, will feature at this year’s Fiba Zone 5 Afrobasket Qualifiers.

Having qualified for the 2015 showpiece in Cameroon, the Gazelles have since struggled to get game time mainly due to lack of funds.

The side kicked off preparations for the February 14-19th tournament yesterday at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium after a press launch at Hotel Africana.

“This is a big event for our women’s basketball since we have not been at this stage for eight years now due to lack of funds to participate” Nasser Sserunjogi, the Fuba President said at a press conference Monday morning.

As many as 28 players have been summoned to start non-residential training under the tutelage of new tactician Alberto Antuna, who takes over from Nicholas Natuhereza.

Of the 28, 15 will make it to residential training as the coaches look for the best 12 to take part in the tournament.

Antuna, a Spanish coach, who has worked with Montenegro National team as the assistant coach, admitted to knowing little about Ugandan basketball.

“It is my first time in Uganda and Africa but the moment I knew I would be working with the Ugandan national team, I tried to collect as much information as possible,” Antuna told the press at his unveiling.

He has been assured of retaining his role regardless of what happens in the qualifiers next month.

By his side will be four tried and tested Ugandan coaches.

Natuhereza, Ali Mavita, Henry Malinga and Roger Serunyigo will come in handy for the Spaniard.

New faces

Uganda missed the chance of playing the 2021 Qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda due to financial difficulties.

Since then, players like Zainah Lokwameri, Sarah Ageno and Maureen Amoding have been plying their trade in the lower division with JT Lady Jaguars.

The trio will lead a handful of seasoned campaigners and numerous first-timers as the Gazelles look to book a slot for Afrobasket.

Evelyn Nakiyingi, who has impressed for JKL Lady Dolphins, is one of the rising stars joining the Gazelles frame.

Fildauce Namuleme, Shakira Nanvubya, Bridget Aber, Shila Lamunu, Azidah Nabayunga and Perus Nyamwenge are some of the other new faces.

Uganda will be looking to clinch one of the two available slots.

Egypt, Kenya and Rwanda are all expected to pause a big threat for Antuna and his charges.

Fiba Afrobasket Zone V Qualifiers
Dates: February 14-19
Host: Uganda
Venue: Lugogo Indoor Stadium 
Expected teams: Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Uganda.

Gazelles Provisional Squad

Evelyne Nakiyingi (JKL), Winfred Akello (Miracle), Flavia Oketcho (JKL), Sarah Ageno (JT), Shakira Nanvubya (UCU), Bridget Aber (UCU), Fildauce Namuleme (KIU), Becky Longom (KCAA), Angella Namirimu (KCCA), Sarah Namale (Nabisunsa), Brenda Ekone (JKL), Rebecca Anyu (KCCA), Shila Lamunu (Stormers), Rita Imanishimwe (JKL), Amoding Moreen (JT), Perus Nyamwenge (KIU), Shadia Mbwali (Nkumba), Agatha Kamwada (UCU), Diana Letaru (Stormers), Azida Nabayunga (UCU), Zaina Lokwameri (JT), Margaret Bagaala (KU), Mary Amaniyo (KIU), Leticia Awor (KCCA), Faridah Kandondi (KU), Hope Akello (JKL), Sharon Kirabo (KIU), Sylvia Nantongo (SMASK).