Teen sensation Tejan Rugette leads Uganda to FIBA U18 African Championship


Teenager Tejan Joel Rugette is swiftly becoming a name to watch in the realm of African basketball, thanks to his stellar performances at the recent 2024 FIBA U18 African Championship Qualifiers for Zone 5 countries.

At just 16, Rugette has already established himself as a star, leading Uganda to a successful qualification for this year’s FIBA U18 African Championship, which will be held in South Africa in August.

Rugette, who also serves as the captain of the Junior Silverbacks, demonstrated his skill and leadership throughout the Zone 5 qualifying tournament held on home soil.

Averaging 10 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game, he was instrumental in Uganda’s success. His efforts were recognized with the MVP award, a fitting capstone to a memorable tournament.

Ahead of their crucial final game against neighboring Rwanda, which ended in a thrilling 69-66 victory, Rugette exuded confidence. “We are preparing to win this game against Rwanda and go to South Africa,” he stated.

His performance in the game was nothing short of spectacular, contributing 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists, showcasing his ability to deliver under pressure.

This will not be Rugette’s first appearance on the continental stage. He previously competed in the 2023 FIBA U16 African Championships, where he made a significant impact despite Uganda’s 10th-place finish.

Averaging 26.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game, he was one of the standout players of the tournament. While his production dipped slightly in the recent Zone 5 U18 Qualifiers, his leadership responsibilities have given him a new perspective on the game.

Coach Andrew Tendo, who also coaches the City Oilers in the Uganda Basketball League, spoke highly of Rugette’s talents and leadership qualities.

“It’s always a blessing for a coach to experience handling a special talent like Tejan because such a player doesn’t come around often,” Tendo remarked. “On the mentorship side of things, there was growth for both the player and coaches.”

Tendo was particularly impressed by Rugette’s leadership abilities. “I was impressed by Tejan’s leadership simply because he is a very motivated and down-to-earth player.

It was a blessing to see such a young player connect with all his teammates and deliver when the team needed him the most,” he said. Rugette’s ability to inspire and unify his team has been a key factor in their success.

While Rugette’s exceptional play has garnered much attention, Tendo believes the future of basketball in Uganda is bright. “As a coach, I am really excited about having experienced the fortune of qualifying Uganda for the U18 AfroBasket.

It’s a clear picture of the kind of young talent that the country has – the future of basketball in Uganda is very bright,” Tendo explained. “Experiencing the young talent during the preparations for the tournament and qualifiers has been an eye-opener.

I have been impressed by the level of skill and discipline that this young crop of players possesses. It’s something you don’t come across often in basketball.”

The Junior Silverbacks have already achieved a significant milestone by qualifying for the upcoming FIBA U18 African Championship. This accomplishment reflects the growing strength and potential of Ugandan basketball.

As the team prepares to compete on the continental stage, the eyes of the basketball world will be on Rugette and his teammates to see how they perform.

Rugette’s journey and success serve as an inspiration for young basketball players across Uganda and the African continent. His story is a testament to what can be achieved with talent, hard work, and strong leadership.

As the Junior Silverbacks head to South Africa, they carry with them the hopes and dreams of a nation, eager to make their mark on the international basketball scene.

The FIBA U18 African Championship in August promises to be an exciting showcase of young talent, and Uganda, led by the remarkable Tejan Joel Rugette, is poised to make a significant impact.

The future of Ugandan basketball looks promising, and with players like Rugette leading the charge, the nation’s prospects in the sport are brighter than ever.

Photo: FIBA

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