Four new faces have been added to the national basketball team – Silverbacks – quest for a third straight appearance at the Afrobasket but the areas of concern haven’t changed.
Like the group that won two of three games in Egypt last year, assistant coach Mandy Juruni is expecting Fayed Baale, Titus Lual, Ceaser Kizito and Arthur Kaluma to further aid the team’s defence.
Unlike US-based big man Kaluma, the other three have been part of the group that’s been training at Africa Bible University.
“One thing that we didn’t do so well was defending the ball. When you look at the stats and from the whole qualifier including other groups, Uganda was third from bottom,” Juruni candidly stated in an interview on NTV Pressbox on Monday night.
“We gave out so many points. We felt that as much as we’ve been thinking so much about offence, we need to be a defending team,” he explained.
The Silverbacks actually conceded 284 points, the highest of all the 20 teams in the qualifiers. Offensively, the team ranked second after scoring 272 points from the three games played.Equipped with those stats, Juruni, a point guard in his heyday, went on.
Base for offence
“If you are a good defensive team it can easily give you offence. So this time round we looked at players who we think are going to help us in that department.“We want to continue playing the offense that we played or even better but our emphasis has been on defence,” Juruni opined. The team leaves for Monastir, Tunisia tomorrow for the final qualifier that will run February 18-21 where they will face Morocco, Cape Verde and Egypt. The Silverbacks need to finish among the top three teams in Group E having finished second after the first qualification window.
First window show
In the first window, Uganda beat Morocco 94-90 and Cape Verde and lost 96-77 to Egypt. On Kaluma, Juruni was unequivocal on what he brings.
“We think he’ll help us a lot on the rebounds. All the three games that we played we lost rebounds by double digits. It’s very hard at that level not to be a good rebounding team,” Juruni said of the 6ft 7in Kaluma.
“We want to think that if we get better on defence we can be better. This time we want to play a high tempo game. The inclusion of Bbaale who is very quick and is a good defender down the floor is definitely going to help us,” he concluded.
Jimmy Enabu (City Oilers), Tonny Drileba (City Oilers), Joseph Ikong (City Oilers), Benjamin Komakech (City Oilers), James Okello (City Oilers), Titus Odeke Lual (UCU Canons), Ceaser Kizito (Sharing Youth) , Fayed Baale (UCU Canons), Ishmail Wainwright (USA), Deng Geu (Denmark), Eric Rwahwire (Canada), Robinson Opong (Canada), Arthur Kaluma (USA)
SECOND ROUND - AFRICA QUALIFIER:
Dates: February 17-21, 2021
Venue: Monastir, Tunisia
Thursday, February 18
Uganda vs. Egypt
Saturday, February 20
Uganda vs. Morocco
Sunday, February 21
Uganda vs. Cape Verde