Silverbacks wake up from World Cup dream

Guard Jimmy Enabu attacks the basket against Guinea. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

Uganda messed up the opportunity to get back on track in the second round by having no preparations for the action in Ivory Coast and the results; an 84-62 loss to Angola, 91-80 to Ivory Coast and 76-69 to Guinea.

If the Silverbacks still harboured any ambitions of making the 2023 Fiba World Cup, they were extinguished after three straight defeats in Ivory Coast over the weekend.

George Galanopoulos’ charges finished sixth at Afrobasket September last year and looked like they were edging closer to the table of men. Victory over powerhouse Nigeria on August 31, 2021 made many to believe that the World Cup was not a farfetched dream.

But the qualifiers started with defeat to Mali, a win over Cape Verde and another loss to Nigeria. By the time the team flew to Ivory Coast, it had won a single game and lost four with their progress aided by Mali’s disqualification after a player strike in Kigali led to forfeited games in July.

Uganda messed up the opportunity to get back on track in the second round by having no preparations for the action in Ivory Coast and the results; an 84-62 loss to Angola, 91-80 to Ivory Coast and 76-69 to Guinea.

It is the last result that will hurt the most for the Silverbacks, though. Angola are 11-time Africa champions and in a different world compared to Uganda while Ivory Coast are losing finalists from last year’s Afrobasket, are unbeaten and became the first African country to book a place at next year’s event in Indonesia, Japan and Philippines.

Wheels went off for Uganda after a strong start to the game against Ivory Coast and the West Africans dominated the last stretch to register victory.

The first game, against Angola, was largely one sided with the Angolans getting out of the blocks early and maintaining an arm’s distance till the end.

It is Guinea that had the worst record going into the weekend and indeed, their win over Uganda is the only one they have registered in the qualifiers.

“That loss is 100% on me,” Galanopoulos told the press after the defeat on Sunday.

“I didn't communicate some things the way I needed to,”

Forward Ishmail Wainwright believes the result could have been different if the team had done much better in some aspects of the game.

“We should have done better rebounding and taking care of the ball,” the Phoenix Suns forward noted.

Guinea outrebounded Uganda 54-38 and got scored 25 second chance points to turn things around and take the win.

With 4.58 left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Uganda led by ten points (64-54) but Guinea fought back and forced the Silverbacks into errors to extinguish the lead and take control.

The East African collapsed and struggled for offense down the stretch to hand the win to Guinea.

Robinson Opong continued to be Uganda’s weapon on offense and shot five of 14 from three-point range to end the game with a team high 20 points but these were not sufficient for victory.

Jimmy Enabu was the only other Silverback to score in double figures with 15 points.

Uganda’s 1-6 record leaves them rooted at the base of group E with three more games to come in February next year.

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