Medal bracket in sight for Silverbacks

Blood Brothers. Adam Seiko (L) and Arthur Kaluma have played with a fearless approach throughout. PHOTO / FERWABA

By defeating Nigeria 80-68 to make the quarterfinals at the Fiba Afrobasket Championship, the Silverbacks made a statement to the entire continent.

 The next opponents know what is coming at them and Uganda must be ready to maintain that momentum.

The world will keenly watch as the Silverbacks engage Cape Verde this evening for a place in the semi-finals.

 Head coach George Galanopoulos emphasised ball pressure on defence, boxing out and better conversion inside the paint as the team went through video sessions yesterday morning.

Cape Verde present another challenge all together with centre Walter Tavarez creating a big obstacle around the rim with his 7’3 frame while the Almeida brothers, Ivan and Joel, get buckets on their good days.

In their last group game against Angola, Cape Verde drained six straight threes to start the game and defending the three-point line will be key for the Silverbacks today. “We believe we can beat them (Cape Verde),” said Robinson Opong, who came off the bench to score 19 points in the victory over Nigeria.

Ishmail Wainwright, who got a double-double of 11 points and as many rebounds, believes the Silverbacks are only getting started. “We keep getting better with every game and our eyes are on the prize,” said the Toronto Raptors forward.

Uganda defeated Cape Verde 101-98 in the first window of qualifiers held in Egypt in November 2020 and will be looking to do the same in Uganda’s biggest game ever.

Run them

Uganda is one of the youngest teams at the championship and a running game has done wonders in the two games that the Silverbacks have won thus far.

Galanopoulos will employ the same approach against a bigger Cape Verde outfit. Having the ball in Wainwright’s hands draws big bodies out of the paint and the Silverbacks runners must convert at the rim.

Arthur Kaluma, James Okello and Jimmy Enabu have missed some big layups in the tournament and Galanopoulos emphasised better finishing.

The Silverbacks shot 16 of 33 from downtown and 11 of 31 from inside against Nigeria. That coupled with better ball protection and pressure defence made them unplayable and Galanopoulos will demand the same energy today.

Both Cape Verde and Uganda were in Group E of the Fiba Afrobasket qualifiers and are also staying in the same hotel, Park Inn by Radisson for the tournament.

A second meeting between the two sides was never played after Uganda’s victory over Morocco on July 8 confirmed qualification to the finals for the two sides.

The two nations have also been drawn together in Group A alongside Mali and Nigeria for the Fiba World Cup Qualifiers that start November this year.

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