New Vision (Kampala)

2 January 2013

Uganda: Afidra Blasts National Team Selectors

Isaac Afidra's response to not being included in the preliminary national basketball men's squad for the upcoming FIBA Africa Zone Five championship was an argument-ender.

But you can't help but wonder whether it would have been different had the D'Mark Power star been selected by head coach Mandy Juruni and assistants Gad Eteu and Bernes Ankunda in the 15-man line-up.

"They (selectors) must have read my mind," said Afidra late Monday. "I wasn't going to make it even if I had been selected. I have too many commitments right now."

The revelation means that the debate about the merits of excluding one of local basketball's finest ever players will not go any further than it already has. That, however, doesn't change the fact that the Uganda will be without one of its most gifted players in the January 21-27 Tanzania tournament.

Afidra maintains he "wasn't planning to play" and it must be admitted that at this point in time representing Uganda is as much a sacrifice as it is a privilege but what if the Power talisman had been named in the squad? Maybe he has commitments but what if Afidra's resolve was tested with a call-up?

Coaches Eteu and Bernice Ankunda revealed that Juruni's final selections were based on "discipline as much as talent", a not so subtle reference to Afidra's strong character, which has rubbed a few coaches the wrong way.

There is no doubt he loves to prove himself for the national team, having never made an impact on the international stage before. Afidra's contribution during the 2011 national Zone Five event in Rwanda was minimal and you feel his remorse when he talks about it.

"I felt I didn't get enough playing-time to make any impact," Afidra recalls, adding that the preparations for national team engagements continue to be poor.

"The team should have had at least three months of preparation," argued the 2011 Finals MVP. "But now they are going to work so hard in the next three weeks by the time the get to Tanzania, they will be extremely tired. FUBA should have prepared several friendlies for the team throughout the year. They can't use the excuse of the league."

Sounds like the opinion of a player who really cares about the team, a player who may have added value to team.

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