By Simon Abaho
Uganda’s Silverbacks are through to the quarterfinals of the FIBA AfroBasket after beating Nigeria 80-68.
The Silverbacks grabbed the game right from tip-off, shooting the ball well from beyond the arc to start and assumed a 12-point (24-12) lead at the end of the first quarter.
Arthur Kaluma opened the second quarter scoring for Silverbacks who went on an 11-2 run to lead by 21 points. D’Tigers however rallied back and went into the halftime break trailing by 13 points (31-44).
D’Tigers cut the deficit to 9 points early in the third quarter but a flurry of good plays from Uganda restored a double-digit lead midway through the period. Silverbacks’ lead hovered above 13 points before closing the period leading by 19 (67-49).
Nigeria started the fourth quarter with two unanswered three-pointers from George Domingo (13 points) forcing Uganda’s head coach George Galanopoulos to call a time out. On return, D’Tigers extended the run to 8-0 but a couple of 3s from Robinson Opong settled some nerves and the East Africans were back on track to victory.
Opong scored team-high 19 points shooting 60% from 3-point range. Ishmail Wainright delivered another masterclass performance with a triple-double of 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists.
Arthur Kaluma and John Deng Geu contributed 11 points each while Adam Seiko had 10 points in the historic win that put Uganda in the last eight on the continent for the first time.
Uzodinma Utomi scored game-high 23 points in a losing effort for Nigeria. Jeremiah Mordi (12 points) and Ikenna Ndugba (10 points) were the other Nigerians to score in double figures.
The Silverbacks will now take on Cape Verde in the quarterfinals on Thursday.