The Silverbacks can lose to both Morocco and Cape Verde and still qualify for next month’s Fiba Afrobasket in Kigali, Rwanda.
Having finished the first round of qualifiers with a 2-1 record, George Galanopoulos’s charges have a buffer.
In defeat, they would still have a chance if they lost their remaining games since they would be level on points with both Morocco and Cape Verde.
Points’ difference would then come into play.
That, however, is not something the team has in mind as they take on Morocco today in Rabat. In fact, only one game matters for the Silverbacks. Team captain Jimmy Enabu, having averaged 17.7 points and five assists, is confident the job can be done to cancel out any mathematics.
“We are only focusing on one game for now, not thinking about the next. Almost like we don’t know that there could be another,” Enabu said in a phone interview.
The guard is not only the team captain, he is also the only player in the current squad to have graced the last two Fiba Afrobasket championships.
He is easily the most consistent locally-based player.
Enabu sees no need to change the brand of basketball for a team whose qualification was delayed from February due to registering Covid-19 cases.
“We have to play our brand of basketball that has given us results so far,” he notes
“The adjustments we’ve made are basic ones that mainly focus on what we have already been doing. So, we are just trying to get better at doing them.”
There are three additions that will wear the black, yellow and red for the first time and they all carry with them attributes that can only improve the team.
Keiran Zziwa is a 6’0 point guard and joins Enabu and Tonny Drileba in bringing down the ball. Abdihakim Ghedi Mohamed is a 6’11 centre and adds more size in the paint for Uganda. Arthur Kaluma, a 6’8 forward was part of the Ugandan side that was kicked out of the bubble in Monastir following reported Covid-19 cases in the team camp in February.
His athleticism, size and length allow him to guard multiple positions on the floor and that gives Uganda the depth needed at this level.
The three additions give Galanopoulos and his assistant Mandy Juruni options against a Morocco side that has beefed up for their last chance at qualification.
“The new players are amazing. Young and athletic with the skill set that fits into what the team system is. They make our team much deeper,” Enabu opined.
In the first window, Uganda looked great on offence but struggled to get stops on defence and that is something everyone part of the team has re-echoed since November last year.
France based Ishmail Wainright only trained with the team yesterday but will be expected to be the main source of offence.
He scored 14 points in Uganda’s 94-90 victory over the Moroccans and averaged 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the first round.
A win will guarantee Uganda a place at the finals in Kigali, Rwanda next month and also an opportunity to take part in the World Cup Qualifiers later this year.
For Enabu, the chance to play at the continental showpiece is an unmatched experience for anyone with ambitions in the sport.
“It’s a big opportunity, Uganda basketball is on the rise. Playing in AfroBasket continues to steer us in the right direction.”
Qualified teams: Rwanda, Nigeria, South Sudan, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Angola, Egypt, Cameroon, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Kenya, Guinea