FUBA Unveils Spanish Coach for the Gazelles

The Federation of Uganda Basketball Association-FUBA has unveiled Spanish National Alberto Atuna as the new head coach of the National Women’s Basketball team, the Gazelles. FUBA President, Nasser Sserunjoji unveiled Atuna at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Monday morning.

Atuna comes at a time when the Gazelles are warming up to start preparing for the Federation of International Basketball Association-FIBA Zone V Women’s Afro-basket Qualifiers. He will be aided by Nick Natuhereza, Mavita Ali, and Henry Malinga, all local coaches. 

The Federation has summoned a provisional squad of 28 players that will start a non-residential camp to kick off preparations for the continental engagements at the Lugogo Indoor Arena on Monday. The non-residential training camp will take place for 10 days and thereafter a residential one with the final selected team until the tournament period.   

While unveiling the Coach, Sserunjoji stated that the Federation sought a competent person who could assist them in building a long-lasting team and found competency in Atuna, but he was not hesitant in admitting that the Federation received recommendations from its specialists, who recommended Atuna.  

“The coach was head-hunted after a few recommendations and we believe that with the experience he has, he can handle the team very well, some of the things we considered are that he is a young coach and we want to build a program, it’s not a one-year thing, we want to build a strong program for our national team that will last for many years,” Sserunjoji said.  

On his part, Atuna who is coaching an African team for the first time appreciated the local basketball body for the opportunity and committed to building a formidable squad that will qualify for the continental championship.  

He added that while this will be his first time coaching an African team, he has been closely following AfroBakset competitions and believes that with the help of the local coaches who will be on his technical bench, he will be able to see Uganda through. 

The Gazelles will be making their third appearance on the continent, having appeared in 1997 and in 2015.  During the last edition of the FIBA Afrobasket qualifiers in 2021, FUBA withdrew a few days before the start of the qualifiers due to the lack of funds. 

Uganda was due to play in the Zone Five event on July 12-17 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda. Asked if the Federation had already acquired funds to support the team, Sserunjoji, who had already estimated that the qualifiers would cost more than 300 million Shillings, said that they have already submitted their budget to the National Council of Sports and hope for a favorable response.

It should also be noted that Uganda will host the qualifiers from February 14 to 19, 2023, at the Lugogo Indoor Arena. Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Somalia, Egypt, and Sudan are among others the Zone V countries expected to take part in the qualifiers. 

The Afrobasket Women is Africa’s women’s basketball continental tournament, held every two years. Nigeria is the defending champion of the biennial tournament, which was last held in Cameroon in 2021.

Speaking to URN, Zaina Lokwameri, a small forward for the Gazelles, said the qualifiers provide an opportunity for the female team, which was compelled to withdraw in 2021. She added that many of her colleagues have been working out on their own and the team preparations will be an addition to their fitness levels.

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