Hosting the FIBA Zone V U18 Afrobasket Qualifiers was supposed to give Uganda the best chance to qualify for the continental showpiece in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
The start, for the Junior Silverbacks, however, was far from ideal as they were blown out by Rwanda 38-59 in the opener at Lugogo Monday night.
Brian Wathum’s charges were helpless against a well sized Rwandan outfit and must bounce back against Tanzania today.
There is no room to mourn the loss as Uganda looks to get their campaign in order.
The Silverbacks struggled to execute in the opener.
Marvin Jesse Okurut was the team’s only scorer in the first quarter. He opened the scoring by connecting from range before laying up for Uganda’s only points of the frame. He had five rebounds too.
With Rwanda leading 11-5 and dominating the glass, James Osinde opened the second quarter with a three.
The home side came back to lead 12-11 by putting pressure on the ball.
The size of Rwanda’s Brian Karenzi, Brillant Rutsindura and Dick Sano, however, troubled Uganda’s inside game and Rwanda were back in control.
The neighbors led 22-12 and forced Brian Wathum into a time out to sort things.
By halftime, the Rwandans had a comfortable 31-16 lead and had outscored Uganda 24-8 in the paint.
To start the second half, Samuel Ola and James Osinde provided offence in transition and when the lead was cut to 11 (29-40), Rwanda needed a timeout.
They stretched the lead to 14 points (32-46) going into the final ten minutes.
Rwanda went on to take the win and start the campaign on a high.
Osinde and Ola led Uganda with 13 and 10 points respectively but these were not enough.
Head coach Brian Wathum is confident going into today’s game and believes with limited turnovers, the result could have been different.
Uganda had 38 turnovers against Rwanda’s 19 and these made work a lot easier for the neighbours.
The Uganda medical team will also be busy trying to have Osinde ready for today’s game after he limped off in the fourth quarter.
The Junior Gazelles were watching and cheering on their male counterparts and will look to avenge yesterday’s loss.
Ali Mavita’s charges have have some experience on the team with some of the players featuring in the National Basketball League.
Darlene Tashobya, Priscilla Nambogo and Patience Karungi are some of the players on whose backs the Gazelles will ride.