Silverbacks getting into their rhythm as Afrobasket tips off

Silverbacks' Arthur Kaluma (front) and John Deng Geu steady themselves for a rebound against Morocco in 2021. COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • Fiba Afrobasket finals: Tunisia gets game rolling. The Silverbacks are due for final prep session before they face Senegal tomorrow as finals start.

The Silverbacks lost preparation time as Fuba struggled to get funding for proper preparations before the Fiba Afrobasket Championship that tips off today in Kigali, Rwanda, but head coach George Galanopoulos is happy with the progress of his side the few days they have spent together.

The team has so far had six practice sessions with nine players since arriving in Kigali last week and will have their final one this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Senegal.

Ishmail Wainwright, Deng Geu and Arthur Kaluma all arrived last evening and will be fit into the group.
“I’m proud of the effort considering the little time we have had together,” Galanopoulos said after the team’s first scrimmage with the Central African Republic (CAR) on Sunday morning.

Scrimmage exposes rust
The rust on some of the players was evident in the first scrimmage. The intensity levels were clearly low, the team struggled to get going offensively and were also outmuscled by the physical CAR in a 46-32 loss.

Galanopoulos demanded the players to leave it all on the floor against whichever side they face, regardless of what size is put in front of them and the second scrimmage held yesterday morning against the Kenya Morans produced glimpses of what is expected of the Silverbacks.

Jimmy Enabu and Tony Drileba pushed the ball faster while new addition Adam Seiko and Eric Rwahwire got open looks and shot the ball well as Uganda won 59-40.

James Okello and Titus Odeke matched the physicality of Kenya’s Desmond Owily, Ariel Okall and Tom Wamukota to protect the rim, get rebounds and initiate quick transition offence.

With Uganda being a small team in size, Galanopoulos fancies a running game and players have been tasked to run faster than opponents to get the open looks and shoot the ball or drive to the basket before defence is set.

Debut in the offing. Seiko is expected to add steel.

Wainwright, Deng and Kaluma are all expected to take part in today’s session for final instructions ahead of the Senegal test. By the time Uganda take to the floor tomorrow, they will have had seven practice sessions and two scrimmage games, not sufficient at the top level but the coach will not entertain any excuses.

Tip off
Defending champions Tunisia will get the ball rolling when they take on Guinea in a morning clash at the Kigali Arena while hosts Rwanda play the prime-time game against DR Congo.
The Afrobasket will be played in a bubble to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Participating teams are camped at Park Inn Hotel, La Palisse Hotel Nyamata, Onomo Hotel to control interaction with the public.

Before entering the bubble, all teams did Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests of Covid-19. Everyone inside the bubble is expected to take a PCR test every four days.

Fans who intend to watch the games will also have to present a Covid-19 negative test. Rwanda Basketball Federation has announced that Covid-19 tests will be part of ticket prices.

Today Fiba Afrobasket finals
Tunisia     vs.     Guinea     10.30am
CAR    vs.     Egypt    1.30pm
Rwanda     vs.     DR Congo    6pm
Angola     vs.     Cape Verde    9pm


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