The Uganda U16 national basketball team, Junior Gazelles, secured their slot for the FIBA U16 Women’s Africa Championship 2019 after being crowned champions at Zone 5 Qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda.
This is the very first time that Uganda will be playing at the tournament that will attract the very best of the teams from the African continent, including record five-time African champions Mali.
Uganda opened their campaign with a 58-39 victory over neighbours Tanzania on Tuesday inspired by the captain Shilla Aber Lamunu who scored a game high 16 points.
In the second game, Uganda cruised past Rwanda 63-55 with Najjuma dropping an incredible 31 points and picking 36 rebounds to guide the team to a second straight win and an inch closer to qualification.
Going into the final game, Uganda needed one more win to book their slot when they took on Tanzania the second time in the two-legged competition. They won 78-36 in a very pronounced victory to seal a historic qualification to the continental showpiece.
The FUBA president Nasser Sserunjogi thanked the players for listening and following instructions. He said, “I am very impressed with them. I taught them new defence styles and they executed them 100%,” the fiba website quoted him.
“Now we have a big chance to rub shoulders with the big nations. We hope to put up a good fight there and learn a lot. I am going to see if I can get more time develop their weak areas.” He added
Lamunu was voted as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament for inspiring Uganda to the African showpiece where the Junior Gazelles will be competing for the very first time.
Uganda now join the 2017 African champions Mali, runners up Angola, Egypt and Mozambique who finished as semifinalists and have automatically qualified.