Enabu, Rwahwire reflect on Uganda tenacity ahead of Morocco cracker
SALE (Morocco) - Qualifying for the FIBA AfroBasket is a lifetime dream for many and for Uganda captain Jimmy Enabu, it is a befitting reward to a diligent servant of the game back home.
Born and raised into a basketball family, Enabu has always dreamt of playing in front of big crowds fully kitted in national team colors. That dream was achieved in 2015 and 2017 when the Silverbacks lined up in Dakar, Senegal.
However, now he wants more. He wants to return to the big stage - the table of men. The platform where the best of the best on the continent lineup and battle for gold. It is here where he finds solace and an overwhelming regard for accomplishment.
That dream was en route when Uganda picked up two wins in the November 2020 window in Alexandria, Egypt but almost fell through when the Silverbacks camp suffered an outbreak of COVID-19 in February and had their games postponed.
With yet another chance to see through their objective of qualifying for the AfroBasket set to be held in Kigali, Rwanda from August 24 to September, the Silverbacks are charged and ready to fight for their lives.
Enabu has played at two AfroBasket editions - 2015 & 2017
In exclusive interview with FIBA.basketball, Enabu said, "It feels like we are picking up from where we left off. It helps that we have had some time to prepare going into the game so that puts us in a good place. The pressure is always there and we need it to perform well."
"We were looking forward to another opportunity to get out to compete, the hunger never left. Our eyes are still on the prize."
#Fubatalks || #AfrobasketQualifiers— FUBA (@FubaBasketball) July 5, 2021
Silverbacks🦍🇺🇬 Vs Morocco 🇲🇦
📍: Salé at Salle Bouazzaoui - 🇲🇦
The Last time we met on 28/11/2020 - It was a “nail bitting”4Quarters but:
Silverbacks 🦍🇺🇬 won 94-90
🤞🏻 We can do this Again
One win on the road & we Qualify ✌️ pic.twitter.com/tHWJat1kAz
Uganda face Morocco on July 8 in Sale at the Salle El Bouazzaoui and should the Silverbacks emerge victors, they will qualify for their third straight AfroBasket and for Enabu and his teammates, it will be an opportunity to play closer to home in neighbouring Rwanda.
"It is always exciting to play in Rwanda because of the history we have. They have continued to elevate their game which is a challenge we love because we have some sort of rivalry with them. We have some new kids on the block and from what I see they already have a lot to offer on the big stage with that said, competing in Rwanda means a lot to Uganda basketball."
"We have expectations and dreams as a team. We would love to play at the AfroBasket and the World Cup Qualifiers. We are on court to reach heights that we never have. The more international competitions we play in, the better we shall get."
One of the new kids on the block is Eric Rwahwire who is excited to once again be part of this charge as Uganda seeks to qualify for a third consecutive FIBA AfroBasket. He made his debut in November 2020 in the first round of Qualifiers for the Silverbacks.
Rwahwire told FIBA.basketball that, "This is the most meaningful basketball I have ever played. Representing the country of Uganda is an honour and it is meant even more knowing what the veterans have done over the years to get to this point. It is everything, definitely means a lot to me."
"We understand the importance of this game. There is a sense of urgency to not only be ready but also better than what we were in November. Coach George (Galanapoulos) has really set the tone and our leaders have been doing a good job of helping all the newer guys get up to speed."
Rwahwire, who was handed the iconic jersey number 12 worn by the legendary Stephen Omony arguably the greatest Ugandan basketball player of all time, said that, "Albert (Ahabwe who is the Team Manager) gives me reminders."
"When I first joined the Silverbacks, he gave me a little history lesson on Stephen Omony. But it means a lot that they would give me a prestigious number. I do not think of it as big shoes to fill, rather the belief these guys have in me and who I could be for the Silverbacks long term."
Youngsters Abdihakim Ghedi Mohamed and Keiran Zziwa will be looking to make their debut for the Silverbacks on Thursday and cement their names on the team's lineup for years to come.
Uganda, who won the November 2020 tie against Morocco 94-90 have their work cut out against Morocco as they chase a double against the North Africans.
The Silverbacks will hope that guards Robinson Opong (29 points), Enabu (16 points) as well as Ishmail Wainright and Deng Geu who added 14 points apiece will replicate their scoring prowess on Thursday.
This game will take place at 1800hrs GMT on Thursday live on StarTimes in sub Saharan Africa as well as on BeIN in North Africa and the Middle East.