29 January 2013

UGANDA : Team Uganda return from Dar es Salaam with bronze

Norman Blick and his Ugandan teammates ran Egypt close but failed to pull of a surprise victory
Norman Blick and his Ugandan teammates ran Egypt close but failed to pull of a surprise victory. PHOTO by Ismail Kezaala Qualification for the 2013 Afrobasket was never a real prospect for Team Uganda – men and women – prior to the Fiba Africa Zone V Championship.
Neither team came close to attaining the minimum requirement to make the continental championship.
Only the winners made it from the week-long event that climaxed on Saturday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
However, there was a silver lining for the women’s game in Uganda.
The women’s national basketball team returns today with their heads held high after finishing third.
They beat last year’s finalists Rwanda 81-68 in the bronze medal match.
This is the highest placing the women have managed at this level and it’s an improvement from last year when they won only two games in Kigali, Rwanda to clinch fourth.
Unlike the men’s competition that had seven teams pooled into two groups and needed a knockout format to determine the champions, the women played a round-robin format.
Coach Timothy Odeke’s team had earlier beaten Burundi 64-44 and thrashed Tanzania 63-41.
Losses to Egypt 50-64 and Kenya 57-77 quashed any dreams of qualifying for the Fiba Africa Nations Championship, Afrobasket, later this year in Madagascar.
Neighbours Kenya got the lone slot after beating Egypt 70-64 for a perfect tournament. The Ugandan men, champions in 2005, have some soul-searching to do.
Many will still point to the short training period – just two weeks worth 12 sessions with each constituting almost three hours - as the biggest detriment.
The margins by which coach Mandy Juruni’s team lost were not that big. They lost to Egypt (67-80), and Rwanda (85-90) in their group games.
The 80-66 win over Tanzania set them into a sixth-place playoff.
There, Burundi emerged winners 89-86 after overtime for the Ugandan side to end the tournament on a low.
The inquest will start in earnest and better preparations will be a must when the regional competition returns in two years’ time. Egypt beat Rwanda 81-75 to win the men’s gold.

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