New Gazelles coach impressed

Gazelles in training. PHOTO/EMANZI NDYAMUHAKI 

What you need to know:

The Spaniard started his sessions immediately after his unveiling last Monday and is impressed with what he has seen so far.

Saturday marked the end of week one of the National Women’s basketball team, Gazelles’ preparations for the upcoming Fiba Zone V Afrobasket Qualifiers under the tutelage of new head coach Alberto Atuna.

The Spaniard started his sessions immediately after his unveiling last Monday and is impressed with what he has seen so far.

“After six sessions, I have been able to see how they compete five-on-five and I’m impressed,” Atuna told Daily Monitor after Saturday night’s scrimmage at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium.

Initially, a pool of 28 players was summoned to start training but these were reduced to 15 in just three days.

Sharon Kirabo, Fildauce Namuleme, Winfred Akello, Becky Longom, Shila Lamunu, Shadia Mbwali, Azidah Nabayunga, Margaret Bagala, Faridah Kadondi and Sylvia Nantongo are the players dropped.

“We took the decision to reduce the list to 15 players to be able to work deeply with the girls on how we want to play in the championship,” he added.

Maureen Amoding and team captain Flavia Okecho are the two players yet to train with the team.

In Saturday’s scrimmage, some of the dropped players were called in to add competition to the group.

“The first two, three days, I used those to see individual skills. The good shooters, those good with the dribble and basically to show how we want to play and how the players react,” the Spaniard noted.

“The last part of the week was about whether they can compete and are able to adapt to the five-on-five situation.”

Quite fit

The UCU Lady Canons and JKL Lady Dolphins wrapped up the National Basketball League finals mid-October and players have been out of action since, creating fears about their fitness levels.

But Antuna is both surprised and impressed by the shape in which the players are.

“I’m surprised because they are not in bad shape. I’m happy with the conditioning, all of them are in good shape and with no injuries.”

The 15 players available are now expected to continue training for the next two weeks starting today.

Okecho, the team captain, will join along the way to make it 16 players.

The week leading to the championship will see the last cut made to remain with 12 players who will be registered for the tournament.

Uganda will host the tournament between February 14 and 19.

Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania are some of the countries expected to make the trip for the championship.

The top two teams will qualify for the Fiba Afrobasket Championship to be held in Kigali, Rwanda later this year. 

Uganda will be looking to make a third appearance at the continental showpiece having featured in 1997 and 2015.

Players training

Point guards

Evelyne Nakiyinji, Angella Namirimu, Shakira Nanvubya

Shooting guards

Ritah Imanishimwe, Perus Nyamwenge, Brenda Ekone, Shila Lamunu

Small forwards 

Leticia Awor, Agatha Kamwada, Zainah Lokwameri

Power forwards

Hope Akello, Sarah Ageno

Centres

Becky Anyu, Bridget Aber, Sarah Namale 

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