Uganda’s quest to return to the AfroBasket started on a sour note as Silverbacks fell to Egypt 96-77 on Friday night at Al-Ittihad Stadium in Alexandria.
Silverbacks’ hard work through three quarters went to waste as the team committed costly turnovers in the fourth period to hand Egypt a confortable win in the end.
The game was played at a very high intensity and the Silverbacks got running the floor right from tip-off. Deng Geu’s opening flash off Ishmail Wainright’s dime bared the telepathy between Silverbacks’ frontcourt starters.
It was back-and-fourth throughout the opening quarter but Silverbacks had a 3-point lead (24-21) at the end of the frame with Wainright leading Uganda’s charge with an efficient 7 points and a couple of assists while Deng had 6 points.
Egypt quickly wiped the deficit at the start of the second and took command of the game, benefiting from Uganda’s four turnovers and missed shots to open up a double-digit lead.
The halftime break was all Silverbacks needed to recoup as they returned for the third quarter with the energy and intensity that started the game. Skipper Jimmy Enabu took charge of the opening minutes of the period to wipe out the deficit and dished out to Robinson Opong for a go-ahead 3-pointer with 8:51.
Egypt were, however, unfazed as their pressure defense – full and half court press – earned them easy looks and went into the final quarter leading by six points (67-61).
It was in the fourth quarter that Silverbacks’ wheels fell off. With Wainright in foul trouble, Egyptian big man Moustafa Elmekawi got the green light to the paint, and Uganda’s care for the ball couldn’t have gone bad at the wrong time. The Silverbacks committed four turnovers before they could get on board and Egypt had opened a 16-point lead.
Enabu scored game high 20 points to lead Uganda, Wainright and Eric Rwahwire contributed 14 points apiece while Opong chipped in with 12. Deng pulled down game high 12 rebounds to go with 9 points while Tony Drileba assisted on six baskets.
Omor Oraby led Egypt with 16 points, Ehab Saleh added 15 while Ahmed Metwaly chipped in with 11.
Action continues on Saturday as Uganda takes on Morocco while Cape Verde will battle Egypt.