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2019 Basketball Review: Year of Change

By Charles Mutebi

Added 30th December 2019 02:32 PM

The FIBA Africa 3x3 Cup was competitive and so much more for the Ugandan basketball audience.

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Team Uganda came second in the FIBA 3X3 African Cup Final U18. Photo by Richard Sanya

The FIBA Africa 3x3 Cup was competitive and so much more for the Ugandan basketball audience.

BASKETBALL

New order

Nasser Sserunjogi and Grace Kwizera’s showdown at the polls may have passed with relatively limited drama but no event in 2019 will have a greater impact on Ugandan basketball going forward.

After 12 years of Ambrose Tashobya as basketball governing body’s FUBA president, Sserunjogi took on the baton following a decisive win over Kwizera in a process that strengthened the democratic culture of Ugandan basketball while highlighting simmering tensions within the sport.

The City Oilers versus rest of FUBA divide that seemed only imaginary before the polls took on a real face during the elective process that subsequent tensions have done little to remove. Mohammed Santur’s willingness to resign as head of the national teams after Kwizera’s defeat followed by the defused controversy over the Oilers request for a postponement of the 2019 NBL Finals due to the second round of the BAL qualifiers all served as flashpoints of electorally fractured relationships.

 aphne ashobya center and her daughter pick former  president mbrose ashobyas ward from  president asser serunjogi at the awards dinner at abira ountry lub pril 7 2019 hoto by ichael subuga Daphne Tashobya (center) and her daughter pick former FUBA president Ambrose Tashobya's Award from FUBA president Nasser Sserunjogi at the awards dinner at Kabira Country Club, April 7 2019. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 


One of the key legacies of Tashobya’s reign was its astonishing diplomacy, consistently diffusing tensions and producing filial unity within the basketball fraternity. Sserunjogi’s executive may come to struggle sustaining a like spirit of camaraderie but it would be worth the effort.

AfroCan pain

There was a unifying cause in the aftermath of the polls but neither the Uganda Gazelles nor the Silverbacks would be able to make home advantage count as they stumbled in FIBA Africa Zone V qualification.

 laire amunu in action against gypt during the Claire Lamunu in action against Egypt during the AFROCAN qualifiers in Kampala. Photo: Richard Sanya

 


The results did not only raise serious questions about the future of the national teams, right from the unpredictable government funding that denied the Gazelles and Silverbacks adequate preparation, but it cost the Silverbacks a spot at the inaugural AfroCan tournament, which saw rivals Kenya finish as runners up.

 immy nabu in action against enya during the froan qualifiers hoto by ichard anya Jimmy Enabu in action against Kenya during the AfroCan qualifiers. Photo by Richard Sanya

 



JKL history

There was, however, joy for Uganda in its women champions JKL Lady Dolphins, who made history becoming the first Ugandan club to lift the FIBA Zone V Women’s Club Championship when they humbled feared Kenyan opposition on the way to the 2019 crown in Dar es Salaam.

JKL could not afford to participate in the subsequent Africa Champions Cup but they would go on to defend their National Basketball League (NBL) championship after an epic best-of-seven Finals against the UCU Lady Canons that went to Game 7 overtime.

  ady olphins at the  wards dinner hoto by ichael subuga JKL Lady Dolphins at the FUBA Awards dinner. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 


Oilers BAL quest

There was no Zone V glory for the Oilers as the men’s tournament gave way to the Basketball Africa League (BAL) qualifiers first round, where the Ugandan champions finished second to Rwanda’s Patriots and good enough to reach the second and final qualification round in Kigali.

A top-three finish for the Oilers at the Kigali round will catapult them to the inaugural BAL regular season and a $70, 000 participation prize. Before the March 2020 BAL tipoff, the Oilers will attempt to secure their seventh consecutive NBL title when the last four games of their best-of-seven Finals against the UCU Canons resume sometime next month.

The Oilers lead 2-1 but UCU has more bodies and if they find a way of making their numerical advantage count the rest of the series could be competitive.

 
 ity ilers ames kello center fights for a rebound with   anons eter ifuma left and oseph huma during game one of the best of seven final playoffs game at ugogo ov 28 2019  won 6759 hoto by ichael subuga City Oilers' James Okello (center) fights for a rebound with UCU Canons' Peter Sifuma (left) and Joseph Chuma during game one of the best of seven final play-offs game at Lugogo, Nov 28 2019. UCU won 67-59. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 


Africa 3x3 feat unforgettable

The FIBA Africa 3x3 Cup was competitive and so much more for the Ugandan basketball audience.

As tournament hosts, Uganda put on a memorable event on and off the court, finishing fifth and third in the senior men and women’s categories respectively while placing third and second in the boys and girls U-18 Cup respectively.

The 3x3 format has a way to go in these parts but the Africa Cup was proof that it is on the right path.

 ganda 18 boys bronze winners at the  33 frican cup hoto by ichard anya Uganda U-18 boys bronze winners at the FIBA 3X3 African cup. Photo by Richard Sanya

 


FUBA dinner

The return of the FUBA awards dinner was certainly a return to the right way of doing things, with the last such event having come three years ago.

Brenda Akon and Jamilah Nansikombi were rightly named regular season and Finals MVP respectively in the women’s NBL while Landry Ndikumana and James Okello scooped the equivalent accolades in the NBL, unquestionably too.

 ohamed antur presents the  layoffs omen award to  olphins amila ansikombi during the  wards gala at abira ountry lub pril 7 2019 hoto by ichael subuga Mohamed Santur presents the NBL Playoffs MVP-Women award to JKL Dolphins Jamila Nansikombi during the FUBA Awards gala at Kabira Country Club, April 7, 2019. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 


Enabu shocker

Ndikumana and Okello’s team-mate Jimmy Enabu’s decision to switch gears and go into the flying profession shook the entire hoops fraternity while forcing them to take stock of just what sort of special player the seven-time NBL champion truly was.

Enabu has not exactly gone into retirement but the writing is on the wall that a career capable of excelling for another five years is in an effective swansong notwithstanding his appearances in the NBL postseason and BAL second-round qualifiers.

 ity ilers immy nabu left beats owers hillip meny  at ugogo pril 12 2019  hoto by ichael subuga City Oilers' Jimmy Enabu (left) beats Power's Phillip Ameny at Lugogo, April 12 2019. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 

Team Uganda  came second in the FIBA 3X3 African Cup Final U18. Photo by Richard Sanya

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