- Komakech is the team’s only ‘natural’ point guard with Juruni hoping for a consistent product from Jimmy Enabu and Mark Opio.
Last December, City Oilers were in Cairo, Egypt for the Africa Club Championship finishing ninth out of 10 teams. Six of those Oilers are back in the North Africa this week with the national basketball team.
The circumstances are so different. While Oilers travelled with the near-perfect buildup, the national team, both men and women, have only got there on a threadbare budget.
However, when the Fiba Africa Zone V Nations Championships, that also doubles as qualifiers for the 2017 Afrobasket later this year in Congo Brazzaville, tips off today, all the inadequacies will be forgotten. Expectations that will drown the numerous altercations, significant among them the cancellation of planned pre-tournament camp and trimming the number of foreign players, will kick in.
The two Ugandan sides will be confident of qualifying for a second successive Afrobasket. There is two slots up for grabs in either competition with the hosts, Rwanda and Kenya offering the competition in both categories.
If there is a pointer of confidence to start with, the women, the Gazelles, are the reigning champions. Coach Nicholas Natuhereza, who replaced Timothy Odeke, doesn’t have any foreign-based players.
The teams boasts the experience of Flavia Oketcho, size of Muhaimina Namuwaya and Martha Soigi, Maureen Amoding’s physicality, to complement the freshness of Zaina Lokwameri and Jamila Nansikombi.
Unlike Natuhereza, Mandy Juruni has two additions – Stanley Ocitti and Darius Pegues – to complement the local-based contingent that’s without veteran Norman Blick whose passport expired.
“We have all it takes to qualify. I believe in all of you,” Juruni told the players. Eternal captain Steven Omony leads the side that welcomes back Ben Komakech having missed the qualifiers for the 2015 Afrobasket and tournament.
CONTINGENT TO CAIRO
SILVERBACKS: Steven Omony, Jimmy Enabu, Ben Komakech, Jonah Otim, Mark Opio, Joseph Ikong, Mike Madol, James Okello, Ivan Lumanyika, Joseph Chuma, Stanley Ocitti, Darius Pegues
GAZELLES: Flavia Okecho, Sylvia Nakazibwe, Angella Namirimu, Ritah Imanishimwe, Maureen Amoding, Judith Nansobya, Zaina Lokwameri, Jamila Nansikombi Sarah Ageno, Stella Nanfuka, Muhaimina Namuwaya, Martha Soigi