KAMPALA. 

A select side of players in the National Basketball League will this week seek to elevate the Ugandan capital, Kampala, as the best in the game at the inaugural Africa City Challenge tournament.

The tournament that got underway in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday sees ‘Kampala Red Stars’ join the fray today. Coach Mandy Juruni’s side face Dar Dream Team from Dar-es-Salaam.

There is $18, 000 (Shs65m), the highest in the history of inter-city tournaments in the region, in prize money. The winners will pocket $6,000 (Shs21m) in cash.

The cash prizes account for $13 500 of the sponsorship. Over $ 5,000 has been spent on uniforms, trophies, and additional incentives. 

Mombasa, Juba, Mogadishu and hosts Nairobi are the other sides in the six-team event that is bankrolled by Kwese Sports. The games are live on Kwese Sports TV.

Among those selected by Juruni are Uganda national team captain Stephen Omony, an off-season acquisition for City Oilers from Startimes Falcons.

Club teammate Jimmy Enabu, Joseph Ikong (Betway Power), Mark Opio (Pemba Warriors) and Ivan Lumanyika (KIU Titans) are the other Silverbacks on the 10-man team. Geoffrey Soro is the other Ugandan picked.  

The team is completed by Tanzanian Sudi Ulanga (KIU) and the Kenyan trio of Brian Namake (UCU Canons), Phillip Ameny (Warriors), and Michael Makiadi (Power).

Nairobi is the other team in Kampala’s group. The top two teams advance to Thursday’s semifinals with the finals set for next day at the Nyayo Stadium Indoor Arena. 

This is the first time that a regional basketball tournament will be broadcast to viewers across the continent. The East Africa Inter-City Committee has held an Inter-City competition for the past 17 years amid financial strife.

Michael Finley, managing director of Miles & Associates International, the tournament organisers, said: “We wanted to launch the tournament in East Africa because we know that the passion and commitment for the game of basketball in this region is unmatched.

“East African teams have been traveling to compete against one another consistently for well over a decade and we can't wait for Africa to get a chance to witness it.”

AFRICA CITY CHALLENGE

TODAY’S FIXTURES

Kampala v Dar-es-Salaam, 6pm  

Mombasa v Mogadishu, 8pm