Gems fall heavily to Uganda
GEMS coach, Lloyd Makunde, says injuries to some of his key players cost them yesterday as they went down 40-79 to Uganda at the Pent Series in Windhoek, Namibia.
It was their second defeat at the tournament, after losing their first game, to Malawi.
Makunde had to pull out wing defender, Claris Kwaramba and Nobukhosi Ndlovu, at the last minute, after they picked up injuries, during their training session, in the morning.
“We were unfortunate that we had injuries during our morning training session and we had already submitted the team list,’’ said Makunde.
“We had to pull off the injured players and replace them and that cost us.’’
Uganda took the lead in the first quarter and maintained the momentum throughout the game.
They were leading 22-8 in the first quarter.
At half-time it was 39-20 as the East Africans stretched their lead to 19 goals.
Nothing changed in the third quarter, with Uganda restricting Zimbabwe to only nine goals, as they continued to dominate the match.
And, by the end of the quarter, they were leading 61-29.
Uganda, ranked seventh in the world, have been on the rise and are yet to lose a game at the tournament.
On Monday, they beat sixth-ranked Malawi 59-43.
They then beat Zambia 76-22 in their second game.
Makunde said although they lost, it was a good learning platform, for his young players.
“We have youngsters who need exposure at the highest level and against the best teams and we gave them that chance and next time they will know what to expect and play better,’’ he said.
“As usual, we have already prepared for all the games and we will have a good game against Namibia tomorrow (today).”
Following the retirement of some senior players, after the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool, England, the technical team have embarked on a rebuilding exercise, and roped in new blood, into the team.
Their target is to have a strong side, by the time the 2023 World Cup qualifiers, which are expected to take place next year, start.
Zimbabwe will clash with Namibia today and they conclude their campaign with a game against Zambia.
“If we win the last two games, we are home and dry. There is no room for complacency, all teams here are playing well, and they are good,’’ he said.
“It’s no longer about development, all teams are now very competitive.
“We are watching all the games and they know there is no room for complacency.
“If we had been complacent we would have lost to Kenya.
“So, even those coming to the Africa Championships, they are all good and we are encouraging the players, as usual, that every game is important.’’
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