The Observer (Kampala)

29 January 2013

Uganda: Lessons From Zone V

The Fiba Zone V Championship came to an end on Saturday with Uganda's men's team finishing fifth out of seven while the women finished with an unprecedented bronze medal and a trophy.

Egypt won the men's gold while Kenya won the women's gold. Although Uganda's men's team failed to make it out of the group stages, FELIX EUPAL examines the lessons Uganda can pick from the tournament.......

A national team steering committee

With a national league made up of 52 teams, Fuba runs the biggest basketball league in East, Central and Southern Africa. That is why it is understandable why they don't have enough time for the national team. Fuba have their plates full all year round.

Last year, Fuba pushed through a National Team Steering Committee, but it only got into action when time came to select both the national men's and women's teams. It is important that a semi-autonomous committee to run the national team affairs from scouting of players, selection of players to preparations is a process done around the clock.

It is crucial that this committee organises friendly games for the national teams to enable them gel before big tournaments. Ambrose Tashobya, the Fuba president, promised that getting the national team games is something they intend to do henceforth just like the sponsorship they secured this time from Air Uganda and Roko, among others, should be got fast to allow for good preparations.

Free-throw line

Both Ugandan teams showed inefficiency on the free-throw line, failing to convert a number of these opportunities. While the men's team lost to Egypt 80-67, the difference was in Uganda's team missing on the free-throw line and three-point shots. Against Rwanda in the 85-90 loss, one Rwanda player converted five three-point shots, yet Uganda still struggled to convert. It was this loss that stood between Uganda and qualification to the knock-out stage.

The big-men problem

Peter Elungat and Henry Malinga were heavily over-burdened. Once they were in foul trouble, Uganda had no fallback position. One could ask what had happened to the towering Sam Gombya and Ivan Lumanyika.

Well, reports from Tanzania state that Gombya was ineffective against tactical and smart teams while Lumanyika was too inexperienced to be thrown into the deep end. Next time, Fuba must be better organised and avoid the confusion that saw Geoffrey Soro fail to travel and Isaac Afidra, who is a good rebounder.

Notice the strides made

Clearly, the difference in quality between Uganda's players and the rest of the teams wasn't glaring as has been before. The players have made tremendous improvement tactically and physically, going by their performances. In fact, the coaching staff said both the men's and women's teams gave as good as they got. The women showed muscle, resilience and guile, which they lacked two years ago.

As they finished

Women: Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania

Men: Egypt, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania

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