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Uganda’s penniless basketball team risks AfroBasket ouster

Uganda

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Uganda's national basketball team in the  2021 Fiba Afrobasket qualifiers.

Uganda’s national basketball team in the 2021 Fiba Afrobasket qualifiers. FIBA PHOTO

Uganda’s national basketball team risks being kicked out of the AfroBasket championships because it doesn’t have sufficient funds to pay its way, a local official said on Tuesday.

The Silverbacks on Tuesday beat former champions Nigeria 80-68 to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament in neighboring Rwanda, but are being threatened with disqualification.

Nasser Sserunjogi, the head of Uganda’s basketball federation FUBA, told AFP the team needed to find about 360 million Ugandan shillings ($100,000) to meet their expenses in Kigali.

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“We may fall on our promise to pay and get disqualified, a major embarrassment to the country,” he said, describing it as a “worrying situation.”

The Silverbacks are currently relying on credit from the sport’s international body FIBA to cover costs such as accommodation, meals and flight tickets and were initially given an August 29 deadline to pay up or be disqualified.

The team sent a distress letter about their plight to Uganda’s First Lady Janet Museveni and the country’s sports and education minister seeking financial help.

“We are yet to get response on our request for funding the team and we hope it is done soon,” Sserunjogi said, with the team’s fate still unknown after Tuesday’s win.

Uganda have never before reached the quarter-finals of the AfroBasket championships.

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“Despite the financial challenges we have faced, I am grateful that our team is still shining,” Sserunjogi said.

Uganda is set to play Cape Verde in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

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