East African basketball showdown: Who will reign supreme in Zone 5 qualifiers?


The stage is set, the anticipation palpable, as the six-day FIBA Africa U18 Championships for Zone 5 kick off in Kampala, Uganda.

From June 9th to June 14th, the spotlight will shine on the young basketball talents from East Africa, vying for the coveted spots in the 2024 FIBA U18 African Championships slated for South Africa in August.

Among the nations contending for glory are Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania, each with their eyes set on clinching the top prizes in both the boys’ and girls’ categories.

In the boys’ division, the host nation Uganda stands as a formidable force, fueled by the fervent support of their home crowd at the legendary Lugogo Indoor Arena. As defending champions, they carry the weight of expectations on their shoulders, led by head coach Andrew Tendo.

With players like point guard Tejan Rugette and small forward Brighton Galiwango at the helm, Uganda aims to maintain their dominance on the court and secure another title.

However, they face stiff competition from Rwanda, a rising powerhouse in African basketball. Drawing inspiration from the success of their senior teams, Rwanda enters the tournament with determination and skill, poised to challenge Uganda for supremacy.

Meanwhile, Tanzania, despite their previous struggles, has shown marked improvement and is eager to prove their mettle against their regional rivals. And then there’s Kenya, making a long-awaited return to the youth competitions in Zone 5.

Led by coach Martin Okwako, Kenya’s young talents, including standout players Patrick Ndungu and Clinton Wambugu, are determined to make their presence felt and leave a mark on the tournament.

In the girls’ category, Uganda once again emerges as a strong contender, led by head coach John Omondi. Buoyed by the home advantage and a roster boasting talents like shooting guard Maxine Modesta and playmaker Angella Auma, Uganda aims to replicate their past success and clinch another championship title.

However, they face fierce opposition from Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania, each with their own arsenal of skilled players and strategic prowess.

For Kenya, the return to the regional tournament after years of absence signals a resurgence in their basketball program. Coached by Rose Mshila, the girls’ team, featuring players from national champions Butere Girls, is determined to make a statement and compete at the highest level.

Meanwhile, the boys’ team, under the guidance of coach Okwako, draws strength from their silver medal finish at the national school championship, fueling their ambition for success in Kampala.

As the teams converge in Kampala for a shot at glory, the excitement is palpable, and the competition fierce. With each possession, each basket, the destiny of Zone 5’s representatives at the 2024 FIBA U18 African Championships hangs in the balance.

Who will emerge victorious when the final whistle blows? Only time will tell as the young athletes showcase their talents and compete for basketball supremacy in East Africa.

Photo: X

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