AfroBasket 2021 - Team Profile: Uganda
KAMPALA (Uganda) - What a morale booster for Uganda ahead of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021! The 'Silverbacks' climbed eight places in the latest FIBA World Rankings to become No.13 in Africa, a reward for their successful AfroBasket Qualifiers campaign.
In the build-up to this year's FIBA AfroBasket in Kigali, from August 24 to September, here are some important facts about Uganda:
FIBA Ranking Men: 90th (World); 13th (Africa).
Last participation in the AfroBasket: 2017 (three losses; 13th-Place).
Best result at AfroBasket: 13th-Place at FIBA AfroBasket 2017.
How they qualified for the AfroBasket 2021: Uganda finished second in Group E of the Qualifiers with a 3-1 mark.
World: Uganda have never played at world competitions.
Youth teams impact: After two consecutive appearances at FIBA U18 African Championship (2016 and 2018), Uganda missed out the four-nation 2020 edition of the tournament in Cairo.
In a note sent to FIBA.basketball, the Federation of Uganda Basketball Association said: "Our youth teams have recently been frequenting the regional and continental championships... While they haven't reached the semis or finals, we usually get in the swing of things. We are trying to be consistent."
History/Qualification: The FIBA AfroBasket 2015 marked Uganda's first appearance in the history of the competition in decades.
The East Africans returned to the African Championship two years later, and will be celebrating their third straight AfroBasket appearance later this month in Kigali.
Key Players: Ishmail Wainwright made his Uganda debut in style in the first window of the Qualifiers in November 2020.
It is fair to affirm that Wainwright became the heart and soul of the 'Silverbacks'. Such was his impact throughout the Qualifiers.
A terrific shooter and aggressive defender, Wainright, who has recently signed a two-year deal with the Toronto Raptors, propelled Uganda into their third straight AfroBasket appearance.
Another key element for the Silverbacks was Robinson Opong, who made his AfroBasket debut in 2017. A lethal three-point shooter, Opong featured for Nigerian side Rivers Hoopers at the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League.
Rising Star: Arthur Kaluma needed no more than a game to make his introduction to Ugandan basketball fans.
The 19-year-old played a huge role helping the Silverbacks beat Morocco 77-65 last month, a triumph that ensured Uganda a place in the 16-nation AfroBasket 2021.
Arthur Kaluma (15)
Kaluma came off the bench to finish with a game-best 20 points, grabbed five rebounds as Uganda ended Morocco's hopes of retuning to the African basketball festival for an 11th straight time.
Head coach: American George Galanopoulos made his debut at the helm of Uganda at FIBA AfroBasket 2017, a competition they finished 0-3.
He returned for the FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers 2019 and has steered the 'Silverbacks' to a successful AfroBasket Qualifiers campaign.
What the head coach of NBA G-League's Texas Legends and technical bench have achieved recently gives Ugandans hope.
Outlook: Uganda have won only one AfroBasket game out of seven.
Back in 2015, the East Africans defeated Zimbabwe 72-64 in the Classification Round to finish 15th.
As impressive as Uganda were in the Qualifiers, the fact is that they face an uphill task going up Cameroon, Senegal and South Sudan in Group D in Kigali.
But if Opong, Wainright, experienced Jimmy Enabu are healthy and available for the Championship, this team could cause some upset along the way.