Not until the Fiba Afrobasket in August will a verdict be passed on the qualification process that is expected to deliver Africa’s best 16 sides to Kigali, Rwanda.
Uganda want to be there but were made to wait after the national basketball team contingent was found to have five positive Covid-19 cases hours before their qualifying game against Egypt last Thursday.
“Following the Covid-19 protocol for Fiba official national team and club competitions and the advice of its medical commission, Fiba has decided to postpone the games of Uganda in the upcoming Fiba Afrobasket 2021 qualifiers in Monastir, Tunisia, with the health and safety of players, coaches and officials being the primary consideration.
“The decision was taken after five members of the Uganda delegation tested positive to COVID-19 after arriving to Monastir, despite delegation members having provided earlier negative tests,” the Fiba statement read.
Soon after, the Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations (Fuba) made arrangements to have those who were found positive get treatment in Tunisia with the hope that they test negative and be allowed to leave the country.
The rest left Tunisia on Saturday headed home. Over the past four months, Fuba has spent in excess of Shs700m to have the Silverbacks compete in these qualifiers as they seek to take part in the third successive Fiba Afrobasket.
Last November, National Council of Sports (NCS) gave Fuba Shs370m to enable the team take part in the first qualification window in Egypt.
They won two games and lost one. This month, with the team needing one win from three games, Fuba got another Shs334m for travel to Tunisia. That’s Shs704m spent, so far.
The Fuba president Nasser Sserunjogi remains blank, for now. “I am not in a position to look at that at the moment. My biggest concern is how we can get our people get back home,” Sserunjogi told Daily Monitor on phone in Tunisia.
Fuba may as well need more money whenever Fiba choose to have the remaining games held at a venue that can’t be Uganda since the country doesn’t have an indoor basketball court that meets international standards.
“We shall cross the bridge when we get to it,” Sserunjogi said in a low tone.
Team manager Albert Ahabwe is livid and didn’t think the cancellation was warranted. “What is also true is the fact that the team was ready to play regardless of what number we had left, we had enough to meet the rule and what it says of what you able to play with,” Ahabwe stated.
“We had enough players to go out there and play. And we were able to play with whatever numbers we had left as long as they meet the basic number you can get on the basketball court with, so the guys were ready but the officials who run the tournament said we had to step out of the tournament.”
For now, everyone is counting the cost.