Depleted Silverbacks in Angola to save face

Ishmail Wainright is one of the players out of the Silverbacks team in Angola (COURTESY PICTURE)

BASKETBALL Depleted Silverbacks in Angola to save face

Ndyamuhaki J Emanzi 10:06 - 24.02.2023

The Silverbacks are without head coach George Galanopolous and his assistant Mandy Juruni.

The Silverbacks’ contingent of nine players and three officials left Entebbe for Luanda, Angola Late Thursday night to take part in the final round of the Fiba Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers.

They are expected to touch down in Luanda Friday morning and play the first of three remaining games later in the evening.

Only nine players made the trip due to lack of funds to facilitate a full team of 12.

Uganda’s trip to Angola was hanging in balance with just hours to the first game against the hosts.

Fuba and National Council of Sports were in talks to facilitate the team but these did not yield much.

The team, however, eventually made the trip, after the intervention of Fiba. All qualifiers games are televised and Fiba could not afford to have a forfeiture.

Reports show that it is Fiba that came in to bail Uganda out after Fuba calling to officially pull out due to lack of funds.

Fiba, according to reports, procured air tickets for the team to get to Angola for action.

This is only one of the several times the Silverbacks have gone into serious competition with barely any training.

It was the same case before the 2021 Fiba AfroBasket and the first phase of the World Cup Qualifiers.

But foreign based players have previously come in to reinforce the team, which is not the case this time round.

It will be a tough test for the locally based players, some of whom are making their senior debut.

Action time

The team is without head coach George Galanopolous and his assistant Mandy Juruni.

With the two unavailable, City Oilers’ assistant coach Andrew Tendo will be the only tactician on the team.

There is no Ishmail Wainright, Arthur Kaluma, Adam Seiko, Robinson Opong, Kieran Zziwa, Brandon Davies, Jonathan Komagum and Emmanuel Womala on the team.

Tendo will rely on the experience of team captain Jimmy Enabu and James Okello to negotiate the last three games of qualifiers.

Guard Tony Drileba is out injured while the foreign based players could not make the trip. Some are fully committed with their College teams but even if they were not, there were no resources to get them to Luanda.

Fayed Baale, Titus Lual and Stanley Mugerwa are the other players on the team with prior experience of playing at a high level like this.

Ceaser Kizito, Innocent Ochera, Peter Obleng and Rogers Dauna are the other players who made the trip.

For Uganda, it is all about playing to complete the games and saving face.

One win from seven means the Silverbacks cannot progress to the World Cup and the preparations, or lack of, suggest they have no business going to the world showpiece.

Friday fixture

Uganda vs. Angola -7pm