Who were Gazelles’ top performers?

Jannon Otto was Uganda's best player in the AfroBasket Qualifiers (COURTESY PHOTO)

ZONE V QUALIFIERS Who were Gazelles’ top performers?

Ndyamuhaki J Emanzi 08:32 - 21.02.2023

Antuna might have had 12 players at his disposal, but he primarily chose a rotation of eight players.

The Fiba women’s Zone V AfroBasket Qualifiers are out of the way, and the winners are known. Egypt defeated the Uganda Gazelles 74-65 on Sunday to clinch the only direct ticket to the continental showpiece.

And as news of Uganda getting a wild card continues to excite Ugandans, Pulse Sports looks at some of the players who made the difference for Alberto Antuna’s charges on the road to winning silver in Kampala.

Antuna might have had 12 players at his disposal, but he primarily chose a rotation of eight players and actually used just seven players in the final against the Pharaohs.

Sarah Ageno got just 29 seconds against Egypt, while Shilah Lamunu, Shakirah Nanvubya and Leticia Awor were glued to the bench for most of the tournament.

Jannon Otto

She was a first-timer with the team but played like she had been part of it for years. The Luxemburg based small forward was the team’s glue between the guards and bigs.

Her ability to shoot the ball and create for the rest made her unplayable against most teams. She scored 27 points and picked 14 rebounds against Egypt in Uganda’s 86-85 win.

Another double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds against the Pharaohs in the final concluded the tournament for the new Gazelle.

On average, Otto played 36.42 minutes in every game, scoring 18.3 points, gathering 10.3 rebounds and dishing out 2.8 assists.

The American-Ugandan was easily the team’s best player and will be one to look out for in future engagements.

Brenda Ekone

For a country that struggles to shoot the ball and is limited in size, Uganda’s best chance of scoring is through quick transition. And Brenda Ekone is the perfect representation of that style of play.

Against Egypt in the team’s second game, the JKL Lady Dolphins guard blew past everyone guarding her and kept driving to the basket, forcing the Pharaohs to foul her all the time.

She still managed 13 points and six rebounds in that game. The former Nkumba Lady Marines player also got 25 points and seven rebounds in the final game.

The speedster played an average of 27.42 minutes every game, scoring 14.8 points, gathering 6.8 rebounds and an assist.

Alongside Otto, Ekone led the offensive charge for the Gazelles.

Hope Akello

In a country struggling to get the right size to compete in the paint, Hope Akello was Uganda’s force. The JKL lady Dolphins big fought for rebounds against much bigger opponents and still made her presence felt.

She scored 14 points and picked 11 rebounds in Uganda’s first win over Egypt. She was limited to just four points in the final but had 13 rebounds.

The power forward was one of the players getting big minutes under Antuna, 33.18 minutes on average. She averaged 13.3 points, 10 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

Maria Najjuma

She will only get better. The former U16 player barely trained with the team but put in a commendable performance for the Gazelles on her senior debut.

Her 12 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out in the final put her tournament averages at 7.3 points and 10.8 rebounds in 22 minutes.

It is expected that she will play a lot more minutes in future.

Flavia Oketcho

Even without playing well, Oketcho can be a big influence on the Gazelles team due to her longevity. And yet she still put in big performances throughout the tournament.

Her defence set the pace for Uganda in all games, and that made a difference. She had a big steal against Egypt in Uganda’s slim victory.

Her average of 6.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists might not tell the exact picture of her performance. Her energy and leadership on defence saw Gazelles through games.