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Ugandan coach warns Nigeria ahead of
FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers   

ENTEBBE Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda’s head coach Mande Juruni has warned Nigeria ahead of their opener of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup African qualifiers.

“We know Nigeria is a big team with experienced players, but we know how we must react against them because we played at the AfroBasket tournament last year,” Juruni told Xinhua on Sunday before the team traveled to Bamako, Mali for the qualifiers.

Uganda, the Africa Zone 5 champions, grouped alongside hosts Mali, Nigeria and arch-rivals Rwanda, will start the campaign against Nigeria on Feb. 23, face Mali the next day and conclude their group game against Rwanda on Feb. 25.

Juruni said at the Entebbe International Airport that playing in a World Cup qualifier is big and they will take every game as a final. “Every game will matter so much. But it would be great to start with a win,” said Juruni who has Nicholas Natuhwereza as his assistant coach.

Nigeria’s D’Tigers will be a tough team to beat because they have cemented their continental status as the heavyweights taking the latest rankings into consideration. Globally they are placed 32nd. The Nigerian team will look to big names like Ike Diogu, Ikechukwu Nwamu and Bryant Mbamalu.

The African qualifiers consist of 12 tournaments played across six windows. The first round sees four groups of four teams each. Teams face each other in two legs. Top three teams from each group advance to the second round, where the 12 qualified teams are divided in two groups (E and F) of 6 teams each.

The top two teams from groups E and F and the best third-ranked team will secure their tickets for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, which will be played in China.

Uganda’s squad:

Jimmy Abraham Enabu, Joshua Johnson, Robinson Odoch Opong, Syrus Kiviiri, Mark Opio, Samuel Mukooza, Stephen Omony (captain), Joseph Ikong, James Okello, Stanley Mugerwa, Stanley Ocitti, Brandon Sebirumbi.



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