Hosts Uganda edged defending champions South Africa 43-44 to win the 2018 World University Netball Championship at Makerere Arena on Friday.
A collective performance from the whole Ugandan team was vital for the success, with outstanding players in captain Irene Eyaru, goal shooter Mary Nuba and center Susan Atino delivering when needed.
Uganda started with a ranking encounter against South Africa and both sides came so close to winning but a couple of errors from both sides forced a 42-42 stalemate.
The Pearl trailed by one point 10-11 at the end of the first quarter but tables turned in the second for a 19-18 score.
The Spar Proteas made changes in wing attack to bring on Tshina Mdau in the third period and her contribution was just enough to keep them with in one point at the sound of the air horn.
In the fourth quarter, Uganda kept piling the pressure and when Nuba scored the 42nd goal, goal shooter Chante Louw did exactly the same on the opposite end, both sides remaining unbeaten.
In the subsequent game, that was earlier scheduled for 8:00am, Sri Lanka salvaged a 50-48 win their first in the tournament.
Overall second runners up Singapore also overcame Zimbabwe 45-40 – handing them their third loss in a row.
With only one hour separating the arena from climax of the show piece, Uganda and South Africa commenced with warm-ups in-front of the mammoth crowd.
When the first quarter started, goal shooters Nuba and Chante scored on both ends amid loud cheers from fans.
By the time both sides went for the first break, the Proteas had established a two goals advantage at 13-11.
The crowds that were initially chanting grew silent as South Africa further stretched their lead to 22-17 in the second quarter.
Even though Uganda scored more four goals headlined by Joan Nampungu’s amazing steal in her own D, South Africa seemed to be cruise control with a 25-21 half time score.
The four goals gap narrowed down to three by the end of the third quarter 33-30 and the final fifteen minutes brought the excitement back to the arena.
The hosts leveled at the start 36-36 with golden performances from Nuba, centre Atino, Florence Adonia and Eyaru. They all combined for swift ball movement while capitalizing on their opponent’s errors in the goal third.
There were fears that South Africa could level up again after Uganda had gained a 40-42 lead but Nuba’s efforts at the net delivered the holy grail.
Speaking after her decisive goal, Nuba, who stands at 6ft 7in described the moment one of the best.
“I have never felt better. This is the best day of my life,” she said.
This was the first ever World Netball championship Uganda has claimed. The inaugural edition was won by England in Cape Town, South Africa in 2012.
South Africa then went ahead to claim the honors of the second edition of the biennial championship in 2016.
Full Tournament Results
South Africa 117-04 USA
Zimbabwe 44-31 Sri Lanka
Singapore 39-38 Kenya
Uganda 102-16 USA
Uganda 105-15 Kenya
South Africa116-06 Sri Lanka
Zimbabwe 40-28 USA
Uganda 77-19 Singapore
Zimbabwe 28-41 Kenya
South Africa 92-11 Singapore
Uganda 133-24 Sri Lanka
USA 40-44 Kenya
South Africa 105-12 Zimbabwe
Singapore 37-41 USA
Sri Lanka 33-62 Kenya
Uganda 104-10 Zimbabwe
Singapore 62-37 Sri Lanka
South Africa 91-07 Kenya
Sri Lanka 50-48 USA
Singapore 45-40 Zimbabwe
South Africa 42-42 Uganda