By Charles Mutebi in Kigali
IT wasn’t fear but raw admiration that swept across the faces of Ugandan players as they watched their Rwandese counterparts put on basketball clinics at the Amahoro Stadium on Monday.
Today, the Ugandan men must somehow convert that adoration into competitive fire when they take on the overwhelming favourites of Zone Five All Africa Nations Qualifiers.
Rwanda’s men and women teams underlined their superiority with blowouts of 30 plus against Burundi and Ethiopia respectively –– a needless reminder to the rest of the tournament that they occupy a higher planet.
Uganda know they will need something special to bridge the gap and avoid what looks like an inevitable humiliation.
Mercifully, in Steven Omony the Uganda men’s team have a captain with the defiance of a mule.
He watched Rwanda’s 98-60 demolition of Burundi but wasn’t prepared to roll over and wave the white flag.
“There is nothing special about Rwanda,” said Omony. “All they have is good organization and just that ability to do the small things well.”
Rwanda totally outclassed Uganda in the same tournament two years ago and all known logic points to another Rwanda victory. The question is just how big.
The little bit of good news for Uganda is Rwanda’s seven-footer Robert Thompson is battling with illness and can only be half-ready today.
Furthermore, Uganda forward Eric Malinga joined up with the team Tuesday morning and played some part in Uganda’s late encounter with Burundi.
The Ugandan women battle Kenya in a match that should be a stern test of their resolve and quest for a top two finish alive.
Uganda’s women lost to a very beatable Burundi on Monday and will need to significantly up their levels to have a whiff of a chance to beat Kenya.
Uganda’s women return to action after defeating Ethiopia 78-53 last evening.
The team will looking to step up gear against the Kenyans today.