Injuries Hit Gazelles Squad Ahead of Afrobasket

Two Gazelles players have their Afrobasket dream hanging after sustaining injuries.

Victoria Mukisa (Simpson College) and JKL Lady Dolphins Small Forward Leticia Awor sat out of Training on Wednesday!

And Coach Nicholas Natuhereza said it’s going to be “tough” for the two to recover in time.

“Unfortunately it might be tough for us to get them ready to either be part of the practice of eventually the tournament,” Natuhereza told The-SportsNation.

“The only thing we can look at is we have quiet some good cover especially with Leticia Awor’s position. The tough one is with Vicky because she is someone who has been brought in as an extra hand as a point guard that we thought was going to help us be a little better than we were in the qualifiers.

“It’s tough she is seated out, but from what the Doctors say, they will make an assessment of whether she will be able to play in about a week and half now.”

The 2023 AfroBasket Women will be the 26th edition of the tournament and held from 28 July to 6 August 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The small forward position has Jannon Otto and Priscillar Abby, who are top of Awor in the pecking order.

Mukisa, outside Captain Flavia ‘Flirsh’ Oketcho, stood a big chance to command minutes in Kigali.

“In her (Guard) position, I don’t see who we can summon at guard especially one who will make us a little better,” Natuhereza said on chances of summoning a possible replacement.

“From the qualifiers we had at Lugogo, we needed an extra hand at that position because also Evelyn Nakiyinji was struggling with an injury and we are not sure whether she will be 100% okay going into the tournament.

“We have to adapt with who we have and may be play a style that will not be heavily reliant on a point guard especially in some stretches of the game in which we are going to play.”

With injuries to the two, and Jamila ‘Zama’ Nansikombi not expected to make the trip, it leaves the Gazelles with 16 players.

The summoned squad initially included 10 local based players, all of which were part of the team that featured during the Zone V Qualifiers.

“For the local-based players, we didn’t see much need to change, we didn’t think that with several international-based players coming in, it wouldn’t make too much sense to summon more local-based players,” Natuhereza added.

“We thought those from the Qualifiers were sufficient and with many new ones coming in, we wanted to have more time for them to build what we were doing in the qualifiers.”

He added, in relation to the US-based players: “Anytime when you have players playing internationally, they are from a much better set up in terms of training, competition and understanding the game at a more modern level.”

“I though that was more important for us to see and I think the team that eventually goes to Rwanda will have more internationally based players, hopefully we can build something from them and a few local ones.”

Wednesday was the third day since the Gazelles started preparations on Monday.

Maria Najjuma joined the team while Flirsh is expected to train on Thursday after returning from United Kingdom.

Among the local based players, Hope Akello did not show up despite her presence on Monday and Tuesday.

Brenda Ekone left midway the session to Mbarara for a Sports Tutor seminar and will be expected to return on Friday.

“This week is to get new players in, get acquintained with the concept that we are doing and the good thing is that the foreign-based players don’t take long to grasp the things we are doing,” Natuhereza added.

“The preparations are going on well so far, its obvious some of the players haven’t been active for a while especially those who have just come in. It’s been kind of trying to get them in shape. Everything is so far going well.”

The team hopes to get a practice game(s) before the team leaves to Kigali.

Head coach Albert Antuna will join the side next week on Tuesday, Jannon Otto, Melissa Akullu and Claire Lamunu may fly in next week.



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