IT'S a big deal. In financial terms, the biggest in the history of national basketball governing body FUBA. And it was signed in the most memorable of circumstances
By Charles Mutebi
Gazelles 77 Select 53
Silverbacks 82 Kenya 75
IT'S a big deal. In financial terms, the biggest in the history of national basketball governing body FUBA.
And it was signed in the most memorable of circumstances, filled with political pomp, corporate grandeur and dramatic basketball action.
LINGLONG Tire and FUBA signed a rolling agreement on Saturday at Lugogo that makes the giant Chinese tyre manufacturer the main partners of the national basketball teams.
“We are very glad to be the main sponsor of the Uganda basketball teams and we want to see them enjoy long term success,” said LINGLONG Deputy Director Merry Wang, who sealed the deal with FUBA president Ambrose Tashobya.
Chinese Ambassador to Uganda Zhao Yali, cabinet ministers Hillary Onek and Charles Bakkabulindi and City Tyres Head of Sales and Marketing Abdulahi Ahamed witnessed the deal.
The partnership will guarantee adequate resources for the Uganda Silverbacks and Gazelles, who are preparing the FIBA Afrobasket Zone V Qualifiers that take place in two weeks’ time barring a postponement from FIBA Africa.
In recent weeks, a move to postpone the event that will be held in Kampala has gained momentum among Uganda’s Zone V rivals like Rwanda and Egypt.
But the hosts have stood their ground on the original dates of 16-22 June. A Zone V meeting over the matter failed to reach an amicable conclusion, forcing FIBA Africa to step in.
“The final decision on the dates will be made tomorrow (today),” Tashobya told New Vision.
“We have told them we are not willing to postpone the tournament because we have already spent money in preparation. And besides the calendar is released early in the year so every country has ample time to prepare.”
Whatever FIBA decide, it won’t hamper the excitement within local basketball flowing from the LINGLONG deal, the fruits of which were visible once the Gazelles and Silverbacks got into action.
Sharon Karungi, who scored a game-high 17 points as the Gazelles won 77-53 against a Select Side, lives in the USA but was flown home on account of FUBA, as well as the four foreign-based Silverbacks.
Two of them, Josh Johnson and John Balyegwire played as the Silverbacks staged a dramatic rally from a seven point deficit in the last 40 seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime, where they defeated Kenya 82-75.
Balyegwire was particularly exciting, netting 17 points, including five of seven three pointers.
Stephen Omony sunk a game-high 27 for the Silverbacks, with Henry Malinga adding 10 points.
Griffins Ligare and Phillip Ameny scored 20 and 16 points respectively for Kenya.
FUBA secures $60000 sponsorship