Uganda’s attempts to qualify for the 2023 FIBA World Cup ended in failure, but are there any signs that they’ll be better placed to reach the 2027 edition? By looking back at the recent qualifying campaign, we can see how far away the Silverbacks are from reaching their goal the next time.
How Did the Qualifying Campaign for the 2023 FIBA World Cup Go?
The first round in the campaign saw Uganda finish in third place in the four-team group, behind Cape Verde and Nigeria. They picked up five points from their four games, with a points difference of -51. However, they were never in any danger of going out at this stage, as Mali was disqualified after forfeiting a couple of games.
The second round saw Uganda drawn in a tough Group E. They finished bottom of the group, in sixth place with 11 points. Ivory Coast, Angola, and Cape Verde were the teams to qualify from this group and head to the World Cup, which will be held in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia later this year.
The Details of the 2027 World Cup
For the moment, we still don’t know where the 2027 FIBA World Cup will be held. A joint bid between Argentina and Uruguay was the initial front-runner, but these countries withdrew their bid, leaving the bidding process wide open.
Australia, Romania, and Israel have all stated their intention to bid for this tournament, but a joint bid from the US and Canada is widely believed to be in pole position. One of the big questions is whether the host nations will automatically qualify. For the 2023 event, the Philippines and Japan were given automatic qualification but co-host Indonesia was only given conditional qualification and failed to meet the requirements to take part in the World Cup.
Wherever it’s held, Uganda will need to qualify to take part. Even if Uganda was to become a co-host in an African bid, it seems likely that they would still need to prove that they had reached a certain level before their entry was guaranteed. Therefore, this is a good moment to consider whether they have a good chance of qualifying.
The Next Generation of Silverbacks
The chances of Uganda reaching the basketball World Cup in 2027 probably depends upon how successful they are in bringing through a new generation of stars. One way of seeing how much success a national team might have is by looking at how many of their players compete in the best leagues. In the case of basketball, the NBA in the US is the world’s biggest and most competitive league. Ish Wainright of the Phoenix Suns is currently the only Ugandan player in the NBA.
If we look at the current NBA betting at https://www.bovada.lv/sports/basketball/nba, we can see that the Phoenix Suns play alongside top teams like the Boston Celtics, the Denver Nuggets, and the Miami Heat. The growing presence of African players here is shown by the fact that the 2022-23 season was the first time that three players from Cameroon have shared an NBA court, and there are now 16 African-born players in the league.
Brandon Davies also had a spell in the American League after going undrafted in the 2013 NBA draft, but now plays for Olimpia Milano in the Italian Lega Basket Serie A as well as the EuroLeague. Like Wainright, he is a US-born Ugandan and can no longer be considered as a young prospect.
The fact the City Oilers have been named in the Basketball Africa League for the 2023 season is another important factor. This gives them a chance to test their skills against the 11 other teams including the likes of Al Ahly from Egypt, Stade Malien of Mali, and Kwara Falcons from Nigeria.
Ugandans in the NCAA
To get a better idea of who might break through in the NBA and other major leagues in time for 2027, we can look at the NCAA. This is the American college basketball league, and it’s where we expect to see the next generation of stars coming from.
The 2023 NBA draft could see Adam Seiko become the third Uganda to join the NBA. He currently plays for San Diego State but is eligible to turn pro this year and hit the headlines when he scored six three-pointers in a game against UNLV earlier this year.
Arthur Kaluma won’t be eligible for the NBA draft until 2025 but he’s already represented Uganda in the 2023 World Cup Qualifiers. He currently plays for Creighton and averaged 10.4 points in his freshman season there before joining the names on the watchlist for the Karl Malone Award.
Both these players have an excellent chance of reaching the NBA in the next couple of years and becoming big players for Uganda in terms of the next World Cup. To have a good chance of qualifying, we need to see more players of this quality and career trajectory come through.
This look at Uganda’s basketball stars of the future lists some of the country’s greatest hopes. However, it now seems likely that Dikong will no longer be one of them. The giant power forward was born in Uganda to parents from South Sudan and he pulled out of the chance to play for Uganda at FIBA AfroBasket 20231, as he wants to represent the South Sudan team instead.
Bearing all of this in mind, there are some reasons for optimism, but it’s clear that the road to the 2027 FIBA World Cup isn’t going to be an easy one for Uganda to travel. We need to see some exciting new players coming through to join the nation’s current roster and push Uganda forward in time for this challenge.