KAMPALA (Uganda) – With two FIBA 3×3 World Cup events under her belt in 2018, Ritah Imanishimwe has established herself gradually among the few names in world basketball to have featured at such a level.
The 23-year old shooting guard featured for Uganda at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup in Manila, Philippines from June 8-12 before taking part in the FIBA 3×3 U23 World Cup in Xi’An, China from October 3-7.
She has also represented Uganda at the FIBA 3×3 Africa Cup held in Lome, Togo in both 2017 and 2018 with Uganda finishing third two years ago.
It is this international experience that has led her to yearning for a similar challenge in the regular format of the game with Uganda at the upcoming FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2019 Zone 5 Qualifiers in Kampala from June 26 to July 1.
A tale of hard work, determination and tears but nevertheless endless courage to conquer even the most difficult circumstances is what keeps Imanishimwe going against the odds. The test is there in black and white.
“3×3 BASKETBALL HAS NURTURED ME. THE ONE GREAT THING I HAVE LEARNT IS THAT SIZE DOES NOT MATTER. THE GAME IS PLAYED WITH HEART AND WHOEVER WANTS IT MORE AND IS DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO CONTROL THE BALL WILL EARN THE WIN.”- Imanishimwe
Uganda come into this tournament as favourites at least if their last home performance is anything to go by. In 2014, the Gazelles stunned Kenya and Egypt to qualify for the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2015 in Cameroon from an underdog position.
For Imanishimwe and her teammates, the home support will once again be very key at the warmly Lugogo Indoor Arena where she holds memories of guiding JKL Dolphins to their first ever National League title last October ending a seven-year UCU Lady Canons-KCCA Leopards dominance.
She will be hoping to create yet another page in her already decorated trophy and medal cabinet when she comes up against the best in the Zone 5 region.
“PLAYING AT HOME IS LIKE A DEBT. THE HOME CROWD WILL ALWAYS EXPECT A WIN. IT IS ALWAYS AMAZING TO UPLIFT OUR COUNTRY’S FLAG. IF WE DO QUALIFY, THAT WILL BE GREAT EXPERIENCE AND EXPOSURE FOR THE TEAM.” – Imanishimwe
In-form Jamila Nansikombi, veteran Flavia Oketcho and the enterprising duo of Claire Lamunu and Judith Nansobya are expected to alongside Imanishimwe lead Uganda’s charge on both ends of the court but mostly on offence against opponents that have been tried and tested.
For Uganda, a third appearance at the continental showpiece would come in timely considering the tremendous growth basketball in Uganda has experienced in the last five years. A continuation will come in handy.
Imanishimwe explained that, “Playing at home is like a debt. The home crowd will always expect a win. It is always amazing to uplift our country’s flag. If we do qualify, that will be great experience and exposure for the team.”
“3×3 basketball has nurtured me. The one great thing I have learnt is that size does not matter. The game is played with heart and whoever wants it more and is disciplined enough to control the ball will earn the win.”
Uganda will be looking to join the defending champions Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Mozambique who have automatic qualification as well as Zone 2 champions Cape Verde, Zone 4 winners Cameroon and Zone 6 champions Angola.