What you need to know:
- The Silverbacks paid the price for their inadequate preparations and fell 76-66 to the West Africans in the opener.
After a shabby display against Mali in their opening game of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in Benguela, Angola on Friday night, the Silverbacks bounced back for a 77-74 victory over Cape Verde Saturday night.
The Silverbacks paid the price for their inadequate preparations and fell 76-66 to the West Africans in the opener.
The team, which was out of the tournament last Tuesday due to lack of government funding and back in it the next day, only left Uganda on Thursday morning and arrived in Angola with hours to the game.
Three of the foreign based players, Brandon Davies, Eric Rwahwire and Emmanuel Womala, only arrived in Benguela a few hours to tip off while Robinson Odoch Opong was still on the road as the team lost the opener.
Davies’ 24 points and 16 rebounds were simply not enough for a Ugandan outfit that was generous with possession and gave it away 27 times on the day.
Mali pounced and punished every mistake.
Against Cape Verde, though, there was better defence on the perimeter to track shooters and the offense was much better.
Opong went into the team straightaway replacing James Okello and Eric Rwahwire was tasked to stretch to power forward.
The two teams struggled for offense at the start of the game but found rhythm as the first quarter unfolded.
Cape Verde led 14-12 with Uganda hanging on and ensuring the game remained within reach.
In the second quarter, Cape Verde got hot and pulled away by stretching the lead to as many as 10 points.
James Okello came off the bench and greatly improved from the first game display by playing a big role on both ends of the ball.
He dropped a three and attacked the basket as Uganda rallied to close the gap.
Opong beat the buzzer with a three-pointer to close the first half and cut the deficit to a single point (32-31).
The third quarter saw the two teams exchanging leads and Uganda ensured there was no pulling away for the islanders.
With the game tied at 63, Rwahwire found his range off the dribble to put Uganda up by three.
Cape Verde responded through Shane Da Rosa who pulled up to cut the lead to a single point.
The islanders led by a point going into the final ten minutes of the game.
The Silverbacks had opportunities to break away in the final quarter but a bad night on the free throw line saw them shoot just six-of-17 from the line.
With Uganda leading 77-74, they gave away a perimeter shot but Da Rosa’s potential game-levelling corner three-pointer bounced off the rim on the buzzer to send the Silverbacks into celebration.
Davies led Uganda with a game-high 27 points and collected 10 rebounds.
Opong showed how important he is to the Silverbacks’ offense by contributing 17 points while Okello came off the bench to pour in with 13 points and gather eight rebounds before fouling out with over three minutes left on the clock.
Jeffrey Nunes Xavier led Cape Verde with 15 points, Joel Almeida and Kenneti Mendes added 13 points each, Fidel Mendonça had 11 while Ivan Almeida scored 10.
All teams in group A have now won a game each after Nigeria beat Mali 72-70.
Uganda face Nigeria on Sunday night in their final game in Angola with focus on improving their record before next year’s return legs.