UGANDA : Malinga, Kasewu dropped from national team

By Ismail D. Kigongo

Beating the evening traffic jam in Kampala is just one of the hurdles Team Uganda has had to negotiate so far in preparation for the Fiba Africa Zone V Nations Championship in Kigali, Rwanda early next month.

Players often arrive at their own pace to board the team van that leaves YMCA, Wandegeya anytime between 5.30 and 6pm for UCU, Mukono.

Thanks to the Northern bypass, training for the men and women’s teams starts minutes before dark and goes on under floodlights for a period no less than two and half hours. Since the teams assembled on Tuesday, coach Gad Eteu and his women’s equivalent Mandy Juruni have conducted intense drills aimed at getting a quick response from players before the February 1-6 event.

And following today’s double workout at East Kololo court, Eteu should have an idea on who might make the grade from the 17.

Kyambogo Warriors trio of forward Stephen Okias (injury), centre Henry Malinga (work) and guard Ronnie Kasewu (unknown) have been absent in training so far.

Gulu Hawks’ Andrew Opio is also missing with no reason being given by team management. One of the beneficiaries of the absenteeism is Power’s Isaac Luggude, now promoted from the reserves.

“I don’t expect to pick anyone yet to show up because now we are trying to work on philosophy of how the team should play,” Eteu said in slamming the door in the faces of the quartet. “After the weekend, I should be able to cut the team to 14 players then prune it to the final (12-man) list on Tuesday.”

His biggest headaches during training arose in the selection of either UCU Canons’ Jimmy Enabu or Charging Rhino’s Mark Opio for one of the two shooting guard slots.

Little was known to some about the latter until he helped Rhino earn promotion to the topflight league and exhibited near-perfect shooting in practice.

Robert Mubiru and Brian Ssentogo are the only centres in practice which gives them a good chance as Eteu noted that he won’t select more than two players per position.

“Isaac (Afidra), Stephen (Omony) and Norman (Blick) will very helpful since they can both play on the inside and outside but no one’s place is guaranteed. Luggude is working extremely hard which is good to see,” the coach noted. Some players were feeling the after effects of rust following the conclusion of the Fuba League finals last month. “I had not touched a ball since Game Seven against Warriors so I am pleased with the drills,” point guard Ben Komakech said, a view which represented so many of his teammates.

Team in training: B. Komakech,
I. Enabu, E. Enabu, J. Enabu,
N. Blick, J. Ikong, , M. Opio,
I. Afidra, S. Omony, C. Kizito,
P. Wakimwero, B. Okello, E. Mal-
inga, E. Kateregga, B. Ssentogo,
I. Luggude, R. Mubiru.