KAMPALA, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Ugandan men's national basketball team, Silverbacks have intensified preparations ahead of the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers to take place in Mali.
Uganda will battle in group B alongside hosts Mali, Rwanda and giants Nigeria in the qualifiers which take place during February 23-25.
Head coach Mande Juruni told Xinhua on Tuesday that the team is taking shape with some of the foreign based players arriving in time. "We are getting in shape ahead of the qualifiers where we take on Nigeria in our first game," added the coach.
England based player Josh Johnson told Xinhua on Tuesday that he is ready to help the national team qualify for the World Cup. "It is every player's dream to play at the World Cup, but we are aware the qualifiers will be very competitive," added Johnson.
Ambrose Tashobya, President of the Federation of Uganda Basketball Federation (Fuba) told Xinhua that although they are still looking for finances to enable the team to travel over the weekend, it is a big chance to play in a World Cup qualifier.
According to FIBA, the top-three teams of each of the four groups will advance to the decisive 12-team round of the qualifiers, which will see teams (in two groups of six) play home-and-away games over another three-window period and the top two teams from each group, plus the best loser, will then qualify for World Cup.
The seven other African teams that missed out on qualifying directly will then take part in a new 16-team competition called the FIBA-Afrocan to be played in the summer of 2019.
Under FIBA's new competition System, Africa will for the first time qualify five teams to the World Cup that will be hosted by China from August 31st to September 15th.