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Weighing Scale: A Look Into Uganda’s Chances at FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers

Friday, June 29

Mali vs Rwanda

Nigeria vs Uganda, 10:30 PM

 

Saturday, June 30

Uganda vs Mali, 8 PM

Rwanda vs Nigeria

 

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Sunday, July 1

Rwanda vs Uganda, 8 PM

Nigeria vs Mali

 

The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualification (Africa) that will determine the 5 African teams that will participate at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in china resumes this Friday. This is the second window of the first round – The first window was in Bamako, Mali in February this year, for Group B where Uganda is part.

Uganda finished the first window in second place, thanks to a better points difference – winning only one game, 79–63 over Rwanda. Nigeria topped the group as expected, Mali and Rwanda finished third and fourth.

All the four teams (Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda and Nigeria) are in Lagos, Nigeria for a three day event that will see the top three qualify to another second round phase.

In the second round, the top three teams from each group will be placed in a group with three other top teams. All results from the first qualification round, except for results against teams that don’t advance, are carried over to the second round.  The top two teams in each group along with the better placed third team will qualify for China event.

But before we look into the big event in China, will Uganda make the top three of Group B and take part in the second round which is scheduled to be played in September 2018, November 2018 and February 2019.

Nigeria’s D’Tigers, look a class apart in this discussion not because they are the hosts but because they have the depth and quality – beside, Nigeria are the 2015 African champions.

However, before the team left, in a press briefing which doubled as a Flag off, coach Mandy Juruni revealed that Uganda is now good enough to compete with anyone on the continent, Nigeria inclusive.

He strongly said that he has a better team than he took in Bamako during the first round, but a coach is free to say anything to the press, anyway.

Its without doubt that Uganda always rely on the forign legion, but this time round, Robinson Opong is the only player of the foreign based, that returns to the side, among those that featured in Mali – Stanley Ocitti (injured), Sam Mukooza and Brandon Ssebirumbi are not part of the side.

However, Jordin mayes looks to make his competitive debut for the Silverbacks, leave alone the other camp friendlies in the Molten Istanbul tourney where the team finished with a 2-3 record.

“It is going to be a great environment of basketball. I want to just go out there and compete at the highest level against three great teams and leave it all out there on the floor and leaving Nigeria qualified for the next round of play,” Mayes told FIBA.basketball.

“Going out there and competing as long as we compete, we are going to have a great chance at winning all three games. We know the other teams are going to come out ready we have to maximize their intensity and make sure we execute the game plan the coach has for us each game.”

The Los Angeles native is a good shooter, and is going to be the Country’s heart going at the offense.

the team has seven locally based players on board -JKL’s Ivan Lumanyika returns to the team after a while, he has had a stellar season in the league but its not known if he will not freeze at the big stage, he joins City Oilers trio of captain Stephen Omony, James Okello and the gifted Jimmy Enabu, Warriors pair of Stanley Mugerwa and Syrus Kiviiri, and Betway Power’s Joseph Ikong.

All eyes will be on Samuel Kalwanyi who plays College Basketball in the United States and debutants Emmanuel Mugenga and John Deng Geu to deliver for the Silverbacks.

George Galanopolous and  Omar Barajab Abdulkadir joins juruni on the coaching staff to see the team reach the first World cup in the country’s history.

Realistically, Uganda may not have a chance against the hosts, but they will give Mali a big run for their money, and I don’t see them falling to Rwanda in the last game.

The Opponents

Nigeria very confident:

In their last friendly on wednesday, the side routed benin in a 105-42 victory. This was their third game as D’Tigers had played two games against ivory Coast in Abidjan, losing the first 68-66, but comprehensively winning the second 79-60.

Nigeria’s coach Alex Nwora, recently told the country’s press that his side is capable of going through in the upcoming FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Lagos, and no one can do doubt that. do you?

He said: “We have played some friendly games and have done so well in blending the team and hopefully, we will get the best results.

“The team has relatively new players, but they are individuals that have the heart to play for their country.

“Those who were involved in the last qualifiers are engaged in summer championships in the US, so we had to select from the variety of players that were free.’’

Does the last statement give Uganda some hope that Nigeria may be weaker compared to the one that was in Mali? Whatever the answer, the side will be backed up by home fans in the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

The team’s captain, Ike Diogu, as quoted by the Nigerian press commented: “We are looking forward to playing together and taking each game at a time and hopefully get the best result in the competition.”

Rwanda brings a new coach

Despite basketball ruling body in Rwanda, FERWABA disputing claims, respected media hopuse New Times revealed that the team that left the country on Tuesday aboard RwandAir, will be guided by Vladmir Bosnjak.

The 56-year old Serbian is said to have replaced Maxime Mwiseneza who was dropped to the role of assistant coach.

In the first window, Rwanda shook everyone when they edged hosts Mali winning 74-70 with keneth gasana scoring 16 points, but tyhe side couldnt build on that heroics as they lost to Nigeria and uganda to finnish bottom.

They open up with mali again, and they will have that psychological advantage, i mean, if they beat him at his own backyard, why not on a neutral ground?

Their last game will be against Uganda, and any day, they will always believe that Uganda is a team they can beat.

the team has familiar names to Uganda’s basketball audience including Aristide Mugabe, Walter Nkurunziza,  Kami Kabange and foreign based Kenneth Gasana.

“We still have a big chance to qualify for the second round, a top three finish out of four teams is definitely possible. Despite being at the bottom, we have the same points as Uganda and Mali,” said Mwiseneza.

“To advance to the second round, we shall have to win two games and hope that either Uganda or Mali lose two games, which I believe is very much possible,” he added

 

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