Uganda Triumphs Over Egypt in FIBA Zone V Women’s Afro-basket Qualifiers

Uganda National Women’s Basketball team, the Gazelles registered their first win when they defeated giants Egypt 86-85 in the ongoing FIBA Africa Zone V qualifiers for the 2023 Women’s AfroBasket at MTN Arena in Lugogo Wednesday evening.   

The Gazelles were recovering from the devastating 61-53 loss at the hands of the reigning champions Kenya in their opening fixture of the tournament that has attracted five countries. They entered the do-or-die encounter hoping to extend their chances of qualifying for the continental showpiece, and the narrow win definitely soothed hundreds of their fans who flocked to MTN Arena to cheer on the home girls as they tussled with the Egyptians.

In a tense match, in which Uganda needed a win to overturn the odds, the Gazelles got off to a shaky start, committing a handful of errors that Egypt capitalized on to take a 28-22 lead in the first quarter. However, Uganda battled back in the second quarter to lead 28-10, sending the game to halftime with the Gazelles leading 50-38. The third quarter was another tense affair, with Egypt fighting back to narrow the gap.

The Egyptians hard fight finally earned them a slender 23-22 lead, but it was not enough to imperil Uganda’s 72-60 lead at the end of the third quarter. The Gazelles were on the verge of losing their well-deserved victory in the fourth quarter when the Egyptians scored 24 points while the Gazelles only managed 14, but luckily, the Gazelles had gathered more points in the previous quarters, which salvaged their day.  

Uganda’s naturalized United States Guard Jannon Otoo produced a player-of-the-match performance contributing a game-high of 27 points and 14 rebounds. Her performance was supported by Hope Akelo who contributed 14 points and picked up 11 rebounds while Brenda Ekone also contributed 13 points for the Gazelles.

The Gazelles will now take on a more boosted South Sudan on Thursday in the six-day FIBA Africa Zone V qualifiers. The South Sudanese will equally enter the game with a lot of intensity and optimism after defeating Rwanda 54-40. 

The five teams are battling for a single slot in the 2023 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket that will take place in Kigali, Rwanda. Uganda has not competed in the final tournament for the last eight years, having one so in 2015.

If they qualify for the tournament, 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.   

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.

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