The Uganda National Basketball team in Cambridge.

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By Kamyuka Keneth

The Uganda Basketball team is holding the second position in Group E in the AfroBasket qualifiers with two wins and has lost one match. This group is led by Egypt that has won three and  Lost zero. This group is having three countries which include;  Egypt in position one, Uganda, Cape Verde and Morocco respectively. 

The biggest revelation of this qualifying series was Uganda’s Silverbacks who defeated Cape Verde and Morocco and showcased a spirited display to lose out to Group E leaders, Egypt.

For a team that finished in 15th at the 2015 Afrobasket and then 13th two years later, these qualifiers seem to hint at a change in fortunes.

The player of the tournament in Egypt was USA-born small forward Ishmail Wainwright, who plays in France for SIG Strasbourg.

He took the honour after averaging 21 points per game and finishing the qualifiers with 64 points, completely overwhelming Cape Verde when he dropped 36 points including 5 three-pointers.

Uganda also has three players who make the top 10 of the highest scorers on the qualifiers list, the most fielded by a national team.

Finishing second puts Uganda in good stead to qualify and may be even impress at the Afrobasket finals.

Current standings:

Group A:

Tunisia: Won 3 Lost 0

DR Congo: Won 2 Lost 1

CAR: Won1 Lost 2

Madagascar: Won 0 Lost 3

Group B:

Senegal: Won 3 Lost 0

Angola: Won 2 Lost 1

Kenya: Won1 Lost 2

Mozambique: Won 0 Lost 3

Group C:

Ivory Coast: Won 3 Lost 0

Cameroon: Won 2 Lost 1

Equatorial Guinea: Won1 Lost 2

Guinea: Won 0 Lost 3

Group D:

Nigeria: Won 3 Lost 0

South Sudan: Won 2 Lost 1

Mali: Won1 Lost 2

Rwanda: Won 0 Lost 3

Group E:

Egypt: Won 3 Lost 0

Uganda: Won 2 Lost 1

Cape Verde: Won1 Lost 2

Morocco: Won 0 Lost 3

Following all this we see Morocco bring a new head coach in the last bid for the AfroBasket qualification. this has left many questions un answered. Why to bring a new coach and of what importace.

RABAT (Morocco) – Labib El Hamrani has been appointed head coach of Morocco’s men national team, the Royal Moroccan Basketball Federation confirmed on Monday. 

The 50-year-old has become the team’s third head coach in the last four years after his fellow Moroccans Said El Bouzidi and NaoufalUariach

El Hamrani, who has recently coached local side AS FAR, has served as Morocco assistant on numerous occasions. 

Labib El Hamrani (second from left) 

He was El Bouzidi’ assistant during Morocco’s memorable 2017 AfroBasket when they stunned the continent to finish fourth, after beating the likes of Africa powerhouses Angola and Egypt. It was Morocco’s best AfroBasket campaign in 37 years.

The new Morocco head coach has replaced Uariachi, who led Morocco in the first and the second round of the 2021 AfroBasket Qualifiers.

Under Uariach, Morocco finished 0-3 in the first round of the Qualifiers in Alexandria, Egypt. Three months later, Uariachi’s Morocco finished 1-1 in Monastir, Tunisia.

El Hamrani takes the reins of Morocco who will face a do-or-die clash against Uganda next month at home, in a game that will determine whether or not Morocco can secure one of Group E’s three tickets for the 2021 AfroBasket, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from August 24 to September 5.

Morocco (1-4) currently sit third in Group E ahead of Uganda (2-1) who have two games in hand.

Uganda’s games in the second round of this year’s AfroBasket Qualifiers were postponed and rescheduled due to health concerns. As well as Morocco, the ‘Silverbacks’ will play Cape Verde, but won’t face already-qualified Egypt.

El Hamrani’s top priority is to help Morocco qualify for their eleventh straight FIBA AfroBasket. If Morocco beat Uganda next month, they will move on to the Final Phase of this year’s Africa’s flagship tournament and would be placed in either Group A or E.

This comes when the Uganda 2021 national league is suspended due to an upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country. A statement from the National council of sports General secretary Dr Bernard Patrick Ogwel confirmed this on Thursday evening of June 3, 2021. 

“The government of Uganda and the ministry of health have released reports on the development of COVID 19 pandemic which reflect a high rate of infections across the country. The statistics particularly indicate an upsurge in the area of central region with Kampala having the highest cases reported,” The statement partly read.

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