KAMPALA - The year 2015 will appear in the history books of Ugandan Basketball as the one during which the country returned on the international basketball map.
This past August, the 'Silverbacks' - as Uganda's senior men's team is known - made their first appearance in more than three decades in Africa's flagship event, competing at AfroBasket 2015 where they achieved a modest but encouraging result.
Another highlight of basketball in Uganda in 2015 saw the launch in August of the NBA Junior League which attracted dozens of schools from across the country to the capital city of Kampala and confirmed the efforts of the Uganda Basketball Federation (FUBA) to take the game of basketball to the next level.
However, with Uganda's national teams proving their potential on Africa's biggest stages and local teams going from strength to strength in Africa Zone 5, there is still a lot of work to be done, according to FUBA chairman Ambrose Tashobya.
A week before AfroBasket Women 2015 tipped off in Yaounde, Cameroon, the Gazelles were not sure they would make the trip due to a lack of funds.
But as they took to the court in the Cameroonian capital, they felt they could have done a lot better, had the necessary means been put at their disposal.
Despite being eliminated in the Group Phase, the Gazelles made their presence felt in the tournament and Proscovia Peace was in the spotlight, averaging a tournament-high 12.7 rebounds per game.
Sharon Karungi and Claire Lamunu, the MVP of the qualifiers, did not travel to Yaounde because FUBA could not afford to bring them over from the US.
And that's why Tashobya feels it is time for the Ugandan Government as well as private companies to come together to keep Uganda basketball among Africa's best.
"Preparing for such a tournament [AfroBasket Women 2015] you need to have all partners participate equally," Tashobya told FIBA.com.
"We had challenges coming into this tournament. Our government didn't release funds to have the team. We had no [training] camp. We trained out of camp for a few days. Even our foreign players could not come to join the team because we could not afford to bring them in."
"Moving forward, as much as we fight to qualify for this tournament we need to have the Government to give us the necessary resources to prepare the team.
"But we need also to work and improve our basketball grassroots to make sure that the fundamentals are passed to these girls at a very young age. That's what we are focusing on.
"Being here for the first time, it is a commendable contribution from my team, being able to be the number 10 for the first time in this championship and mix all the challenges that we went through, it is a big victory for us.
"We hope that we can go and pick up from these lessons and prepare better for next years."
Asked about the possibility of FUBA becoming self-sufficient, Tashobya said: "It is not as easy as it should be."
"During our qualifiers, 99 percent of the help came through corporate companies.
"Most of the companies that operate within the country have local obligations. If you are targeting market budgets you must be able to show numbers locally, you must be able to brand locally.
"When you go out of the country like we have done [to Cameroon], we have come to a francophone country and most of those companies that we work with locally, are not established there. So there is not much interest. The TV coverage is not as good. They will not see much value being part of this tournament as it is right now.
"Some of the games are broadcast on [pay per view] SuperSport Channel. But the numbers become an issue. How many people have decoders of SuperSport in my country? That's another thing.
"We face big challenges, but for the country that we are, going out for national team duty, the country must fund national teams, at least, by [as much as] 70 percent. Then we look for 30 percent from corporations.
"We had to borrow money. We had to take tough decisions. I made FIBA and the organisers aware of the challenges. We have realised that if we hadn't come, it would have hurt us really bad. We had to borrow money.
"We are going back to keep pressing, hoping that he [President of the country] releases money."
In Tunisia, as they fought for Group Phase survival, the Silverbacks almost upset Central African Republic, but closed out their AfroBasket 2015 with a 1-4 mark thanks to a 72-64 win over Zimbabwe.