Robinson Opong: Playing for Something Bigger Than Yourself
Saskatchewan Rattlers' guard, Robinson Opong, represents the Uganda National Team which is competing in the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers.
"You feel like you're playing for something bigger than yourself. It's very special," Opong states.
He was first given the opportunity to represent Uganda in 2017, a year in which he led his team in points, minutes and steals. 2017 proved to be an invaluable experience for Opong.
"It was experience I needed. That was my rookie year. I didn't know much about African competition. This time around I'm a more seasoned player. More poised."
Opong has since developed as a leader for Uganda. This development has been on constant display throughout the 2021 Qualifiers as he has led his team to a 2-1 record, currently sitting in second place in their group.
"I try to help the team as much as I can, helping my teammates through leading by example."
Opong's leadership role has not hindered his on-court production. He is currently averaging 19 points, 4 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 44.4% from the field. In a recent game against Morocco, Opong went off scoring 29 points, while catching fire from deep, making 7 three-pointers. His performance was crucial to Uganda's success as they narrowly won the game 94-90.
When reflecting back upon the game, Opong's unselfishness and team- oriented mindset was on display.
"At the end of the game I went to the bench, that's when I realized I had a good game. During the game I didn't feel it. I was busy trying to make plays defensively and lost track of individual stats. I was just trying to win a game."
In order to qualify for the AfroBasket Tournament, Uganda must finish in the top three of their group. The Uganda National Team only needs to win 1 of their 3 remaining games to place within the top 3. With that being said, Opong is still setting the bar high for his team.
"We want to finish top 2 in our group. We don't want to be complacent. We don't want to be content. We want to win as many games as we can."
Opong's experience representing Uganda has greatly contributed to his development as a basketball player. The style and pace of play displayed in the AfroBasket Qualifiers can drastically change from game to game. This is due to the massive pool of countries the qualifiers pull from, the qualifiers consist of 20 national teams across Africa competing to qualify for the AfroBasket Tournament held in 2021.
"Experience cannot be taught. I understand basketball at a level I did not three years ago due to the experience." Opong says.
Opong's experience playing for the Uganda National Team has combined with his experience playing with the Saskatchewan Rattlers in the 2020 CEBL Summer Series to assist in his development as a professional.
"I have learned to work to achieve team goals. To get out there and work towards succeeding as a team."
Opong and the Uganda National Team will resume play on February 19th, 2021 as they face off against Egypt (3-0) in a battle for first place in Group E of the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers.
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Canadian Elite Basketball League Stories from January 6, 2021
- Robinson Opong: Playing for Something Bigger Than Yourself - Saskatchewan Rattlers
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