10 January 2014

UGANDA : Mapinduzi Cup: Juruni positive about impact of early preps

FROM LEFT: Blick, Enabu and Omony are part of the 12-man TeamUg that left for Zanzibar yesterday.
FROM LEFT: Blick, Enabu and Omony are part of the 12-man TeamUg that left for Zanzibar yesterday. PHOTOS BY ISMAIL KEZAALA 
Ndejje University Angels guard Jonah Otim was the only one dropped as coach Mandy Juruni trimmed his team to 12 for this week’s Mapinduzi Cup in Zanzibar.
The national basketball team, fondly referred to as TeamUg, left for the island yesterday for the invitational tournament which includes the hosts, Tanzania and Kenya. 
With so many guards in the side, including Swedish-based Kassim Nangwere and Josh Johnson from the UK, it was always going to be hard for Otim, the least experienced of the locals to make the team.
Johnson has been with the side for over a week and played in the two practice games. Nagwere only joined on Sunday and took part in the second of the two practice games. Juruni sees this as a positive thing for the side. “With foreign players coming in, the competition is stiff for everyone. Our local players have to step up,” Juruni added. Later in the year, Spanish-based Brandon Sebirumbi 6ft 9in, Dhal Marial 7ft 3in (US) and Kevin Okello 7ft 1in (Sweden) will join the team ahead of the Fiba Africa Zone V Nations Championships. Uganda, often far from the elite, will host the event and the early preparations for a country not known for starting practice in time can only be encouraging. 

The top two teams from the Zone V event will qualify for the Afrobasket. Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi will be favourites for those two slots. Zanzibar is one step forward in that direction and Juruni kept the bulk of the side that played at the last Zone V event in Tanzania.
Guard Ronnie Kasewu (Riham Warriors) and centre Ivan Rumanyika (UCU Canons) missed training and weren’t considered with Brian Ssentogo taking the latter’s place. Point guard Emmanuel Enabu has since relocated to Canada. There is a first call-up for City Oilers’ point guard Daniel Juuko ‘Najja’ whereas Syrus Kiviri returns after missing the last event through injury.
Ben Komakech (DMark Power) 
Geoffrey Soro (Ndejje), 
Norman Blick (DMark Power), 
Sam Gombya (Warriors), 
Stephen Omony (Falcons), 
Jimmy Enabu (City Oilers), 
Syrus Kiviiri (UCU Canons), 
Henry Malinga (Warriors), 
Brian Ssentongo (Ndejje), 
Daniel Juuko “Najja” (Oilers,), 
Kassim Nangwere (Sweden), 
Josh Johnson (UK, )
Coach- Mandy Juruni Assistant coach - Gad Eteu

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