Uganda Women’s National Basketball team, the Gazelles, will face Mali in their first game in the 2023 FIBA Women’s Afrobasket at BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Gazelles who qualified for this event via a Wild Card after finishing second at Zone V Championship where they lost to Egypt in the final at Lugogo return to Afrobasket after nine years and they will be competing with the big guns on the continent.
In the nine years, Gazelles have missed three editions which include; 2017 (Bamako), 2019 (Dakar) and 2021 (Yaounde) something that will fire them up for the tournament.
The Gazelles squad in Kigali at the moment holds only five local based players all from defendingleague champions JKL Lady Dolphins ;
(Captain) Flavia Oketcho, Brenda Ekone, Rita Imanishimwe, Evelyn Nakiyinji and Hope Akello.
On the majority side of the foreign based players we have annon Otto, Claire Lamunu, Melissa Akulu, Lydia Babirye, Abby Priscilla and Maria Najjuma who are led by Head Coach Albert Antuna and assistants in Nicholas Natuhereza and Mavita Ali.
Before for team left for Kigali we had a chat with Jannon Otto who was fired up for tournament saying;
“I think we are all excited to play at the Afro basket, it a huge step and I want to play hard and take Uganda to the top”
“I am glad to have good players around me, this time we are really more balanced and have more players that can score around five if am not mistaken” she concluded
Uganda are playing Western side Mali who were the finalists of the previous edition, enough proof that they are up against a giant and have to be at their best plus use their underdog status well.
The Gazelles are in Pool C alongside two Continental giants in 11-time winners Senegal and Mali 2007 Champions.
Probable Starting Five
Flavia Oketcho(C), Abby Priscilla, Jannon Otto, Jane Asinde, Maria Najjuma