Darius Pegues goes for a basket. He scored 20 points against Rwanda Credit: Stone Photography
[/media-credit] Team Uganda lines up before the game against Rwanda in the Zone V Qualifiers Credit: Stone Photography

The Ugandan men’s basketball team, Silverbacks, will have to deal with African giants first if they are to feature at their first ever FIBA World Cup.

In a draw held Sunday evening in China, Mandy Juruni’s charges were drawn with reigning African champions Nigeria, Mali and neighbours Rwanda.

The official draw ceremony of the qualifiers took place at a star-studded event in Guangzhou, China on Sunday evening with Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations (FUBA) president Ambrose Tashobya representing Uganda.

The ceremony had four different draws, one for each region – Africa, Americas, Asia (which includes Oceania) and Europe with a total of 80 national teams from across the world expected to participate in these qualifiers.

This is a new format that has been initiated by FIBA for the qualifying process for both the World Cup and Olympics.

The 16 African teams to compete at the qualifiers are those that qualified to compete at this year’s 29th edition of FIBA Afro Basket scheduled for August 19-30 in Luanda, Angola.

Uganda, who will compete at this biennial event after finishing second at the Zone V tournament held in Cairo in March, will start their campaign with a home clash with Nigeria.

The 15 African teams were drawn in four groups of four with Uganda placed in Group B, alongside Nigeria, Rwanda and Mali.

Republic of Congo, which was supposed to host this year’s AfroBasket, withdrew from hosting the event and the hosting rights were awarded to Angola.

An additional country will be invited to replace Congo and will be added to Group D.

Road to World Cup

The first round will be played from November 20, 2017 to June 25, 2018.

The games will be played over a three-window period on a home and away basis with the top three teams from each group qualifying to the second round which will have 12 teams.

The 12 teams will then be drawn in two groups of six and they will play each other on a home and away basis over another three-window period that will start from September 3, 2018 to February 18, 2019.

The top two teams from each group, plus the best loser, will then qualify for 2019 FIBA World Cup.

The seven other teams that missed out on qualifying for FIBA World Cup 2019 will then take part in a new 16-team competition called the FIBA-Afrocan to be played in the summer of 2019.

United States of America (USA) are the reigning world champions having defeated Serbia 129-92 in the final of the 2014 World Cup in Madrid, Spain.

African Qualifiers:

Group A: Guinea, South Africa, Cameroon, Tunisia

Group B: Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Mali

Group C: DR Congo, Angola, Morocco, Egypt

Group D: Senegal, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, TBA

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