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Basketball: Stars at U-18 Fiba Africa qualifiers

Stanley Mtunguja (L) of Tanzania and Uganda’s Brighton Galiwango contest for the ball

Stanley Mtunguja (L) of Tanzania and Uganda’s Brighton Galiwango contest for the ball

The Federation of International Basketball Associations (Fiba) under-18 Africa Zone Five qualifiers took a break Wednesday, and resumed today, before winding up on Friday, June 14 at the Lugogo Indoor stadium.

On Sunday, June 9, the tournament got off to a blistering start with some beautiful basketball, the stakes not-withstanding. Only the winners of both the boys and girls category will qualify for the under-18 African showpiece slated for August in South Africa.

However, before Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, who are competing in Lugogo get to know who of them will be joining Egypt in South Africa, there is every reason for them to celebrate the talents they are harnessing.

During the qualifiers in 2022, Uganda’s boys were largely uncompetitive. Rwanda put them in the shade. Yet, on Monday, Uganda’s boys beat Rwanda 78-49 to follow up on their 103-48 win over Tanzania on Sunday. They looked more formidable in both wins. This did not come in small measure considering the quality on show.

First, in point-guard Joel Tejan, the Junior Silverbacks have a true facilitator. His ball handling, dribbling, passing and above all shooting, mark him out as a well-schooled athlete. He has been developed in the UK, but recently news broke he was moving to the US.

On the opening night, he scored 19 points, but that did not come at the expense of assists to teammates. He recorded seven. Unlike in the past, this Uganda team is not a one-man show. Five players all scored in double figures, including Brighton Galiwango, who notched a game high 23.

Add Edrine Ekau with 19 and Peter Sserunjogi finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds, his application in defence alongside another big man, Victor Makmot, who scored 13 with 10 rebounds was handy. Size is another asset Uganda has now compared to 2022.

Yet, even Rwanda have that in abundance, their 81-52 win over Kenya in the opener not-withstanding. Christian Iranzi is one big man that can glide with the ball. Iranzi, who assisted six times, scored 12 points, and had the most steals of any Rwandan player, three, and four rebounds.

He is a huge prospect, but maybe not more than his point-guard Lebson Kayijuka, who scored 20 points. Kayijuka played like a real MVP in the making. Perhaps the same would have been said of Tanzania’s guard, too, Stanley Mtunguja despite the losing effort to Uganda.

He bagged 21 points, and led in almost every aspect of his team with the most assists and rebounds, four and seven respectively.
Mtunguja would be the scout’s kind of player.

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