10 January 2013

UGANDA : Soro makes strong case for inclusion to Zone V

Soro going for the lay-up at YMCA basketball court on Tuesday
Soro going for the lay-up at YMCA basketball court on Tuesday. PHOTO BY ISMAIL KEZAALA
By Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo
Tied at 68-up with eight seconds to play, Team Uganda needed no reminders that winning games at Fiba Africa Zone V Championship will be as just hard.
It will definitely be much harder. Their first practice game against a hastily arranged Select Side at YMCA Court on Tuesday night came with few positives.
When Chris Kyebambe shot a three for the Select Side to tie the game with Team Uganda, it must felt like the experiment was blowing up. The tiny crowd was elated, overtime was on the way.
Head coach Mandy Juruni called a time-out. From the ensuing inbound, they swung the ball so well that Geoffrey Soro found himself open under the hoop with two seconds left.
Ndejje’s Soro, the reigning regular season top scorer and Most Valuable Player (MVP), sunk it for a laboured 70-68 victory. Called into the 18 as a reserve, Soro made his case with 20 points, a game-high.
It was his first ‘competitive’ game since being stretchered off during a league game against Nkumba Marines last October. “I like his energy. I like his movement,” Juruni said of Soro, who played mainly as centre.
“I like his involvement helping other players. When I called him and the others, I told him he would get a chance like all the others.”
However, it was complete performance after five days of training, spanning close to 15 hours against a team of players who only arrived after receiving text messages earlier in the day.
“They are not yet ready,” DMark Power’s Isaac Luggudde, part of the Select Side, noted. Luggudde may not have the most respected opinions among basketball folklore but his statement does hold water.
Final warm-up
Juruni will demand an improvement in the final warm up game at the Lugogo MTN Arena tomorrow before the January 21-27 tournament in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
“That was very good training. Our objective was not the win. It’s combinations and seeing how players react to situations. We identified a lot of weaknesses,” he added.
Isaac Afidra top scored with 18 points for the Select Side after being ignored by national team selectors. Juruni also veteran Henry Malinga, who skipped the Tuesday engagement, to play tomorrow. Thereafter, the final 12 from the current 14 will be named.
Earlier, the women’s national team rolled to a 67-43 victory over a Select Side.

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