UCU trio earn summons as Silverbacks regroup

Wednesday October 07 2020
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Forest Of Hands. UCU Canons’ Titus Lual Odeke (C) keeps his eyes on the hoop as he tries to evade blocks from KIU Titans players at the MTN Arena Lugogo last season. His summon is a true reward of sacrifice. PHOTO/ISMAIL KEZAALA

By Elvis Senono

The national men’s basketball team - Silverbacks started preparations for the Fiba AfroBasket Qualifiers with training of local based players following the squad announcement yesterday.
 The 12 players who are under the tutelage of coaches Mandy Juruni, Brian Wathum and Andrew Tendo include the UCU Canons trio of David Kongor Deng, Titus Lual and Fayed Baale who all played a starring role as the Mukono University side stretched seven-time champions City Oilers to seven games in the National Basketball League playoff finals.


Deserved run
“Titus, Dikong and Baale you know what they have been doing in the local league. These are players who have improved a lot and deserve a try out in the team,” Juruni said of the trio.
The players will work out four times a week for the next four weeks before the team leaves for a training camp in Alexandria Egypt where they will be joined by six foreign based players.

The local-based group have however been out of competitive action for more than seven months because of the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that led to the cancellation of the domestic league.
“We identified players and told them well be preparing for this. They’ve been training individually. 
“The plan is for us to start group training today for four days a week until November 12 when we plan to depart to Alexandria, Egypt and have a two weeks camp. 

“From there we shall connect with our foreign based players together with coach George Galanopoulos.
 “We shall have a number of friendly games with Egyptian clubs to prepare us for the qualifier. 
“We believe with this kind of program the locally based players training here and then the camp in Egypt we shall be able to put up a good performance and compete favourably. 

“Because we need to win at least a game in each window for us to be able to qualify for the AfroBasket finals that will happen next July,” stated Fuba President Nasser Sserunjogi, flanked by national teams manager Mohammed Santur. The Silverbacks are in Group E together with Egypt, Morocco and a yet to be known fourth team that will be chosen from a qualifier among Cape Verde, South Sudan, Chad, Zimbabwe.  “We all know all the countries in our group are good basketball playing nations. 

“So that really tells us we have to have very good preparations and I am glad we are starting today and as the technical team well do whatever it takes to ‘get these players to a level that we think they’ll be able to compete,” Juruni added.  The six foreign-based players include US-based Samuel Kalwanyi who last featured for the Silverbacks in 2018. There are two debutants on the team including Canada-based guard Eric Rwahire and US-based power forward Ishmail Wainwright who was last listed at French side Strasbourg IG.

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Canada based pro
“Eric is a guard we have been following for the last two years. He was in college and is playing professionally in Canada and has so many good things that we lack as a team. He is a big guard 6’5 and is a very good shooter. We have been lacking consistent shooters and we have that in Eric. Ishmail is a power forward and is very very aggressive and someone who is going to help us creating his own shot and having presence in the paint. He is a very good addition,” Juruni explained.

TEAM COMPOSITION

Local-Based
Ben Komakech (City Oilers), Tony Drileba (City Oilers), 
Fayed Bbale (UCU Canons), 
Innocent Ochera (JKL Dolphins), Ivan Muhwezi (City Oilers), 
Jimmy Enabu (City Oilers), 
Joseph Ikong Anyuru (C. Oilers), 
David Deng Kongor (UCU), 
Geoffrey Soro (Nam Blazers), James Okello (City Oilers), 
Stanley Mugerwa (Warriors), Titus Lual Odeke (UCU Canons).
 
Foreign-Based:
Emmanuel Mugenga (France), Samuel Kalwanyi (USA), 
Ishmail Wainwright (USA), 
Robinson Opong (Canada), 
Eric Rwahire (Canada), 
Deng Geu (Denmark).

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