George Galanopoulos Credit: FIBA
[/media-credit] Silverbacks coach George Galanopoulos explains plays during a breather Credit: Albert Ahabwe

The second legs of the FIBA Basketball World Cup African qualifiers take center stage this weekend, June 29 – July 1.

Uganda, Mali, Rwanda and hosts Nigeria will be in Lagos for the final Group B encounters, with the top three advancing to the final qualifying round.

And in a bid to get ready for the do-or-die leg of the first round, the Silverbacks camped in Istanbul, Turkey where they played five exhibition games – winning two and losing three.

Head coach George Galanopoulos sums up what he has saw from his charges during the games.

“What we have seen from the squad is a team that has not played together very long but that has come together very quickly. We are happy with the effort the team has given, the togetherness that they bring, the willingness to share the basketball, to play defense, to play hard and to play together.”

“Now we have a few opportunities to hit the practice court and we get to address the things we need to improve in order to capitalize on what we want to do in Nigeria. So many areas we need to improve (but) specifically is limiting turnovers, making sure that we finish possessions – offensive possessions and not allow the other team to get extra shots in transition.

“And also rebounding… We are a smaller faster team and what we need to do is work as a team in order to rebound the basketball especially if we are undersized against our opponents. It’s important that all five players are involved in the rebounding.”

The American coach is well aware of his team’s strengths.

“If we do have a strength, our strength is our speed and our quickness, more than anything. So other teams that may have a size advantage on us we have a speed and quickness advantage against them.”

Uganda will play Nigeria on Friday, June 29 then follow it up with a clash against Mali on Saturday, June 30 and will complete their group schedule against Rwanda on Sunday, July 1.

Franklin Kaweru is the Editor in Chief of Kawowo Sports. He is an ardent basketball enthusiast.

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