UGANDA : Riders’ loss leaves Eagles on the edge

by Sande Bashaija

Wednesday results
Riders 88-84 Miracle
Sunday at YMCA
Ndejje v DMark Power
Sparks v Lady Canons

The wait for a maiden play-offs slot continues for Miracle Eagles. After coming so close, the Rubaga-based Eagles blew their opportunity on Wednesday when they lost to the already relegated Knight Riders.

Losing against a lowly Riders side was something they least expected and as coach Barnes Ankunda put it, Eagles’ fate could as well have been sealed then. “We came out to play but had it on mind that other factors are not in our favour,” Ankunda said after the 84-88 loss at YMCA. Ankunda was particularly concerned that Kampala International University (KIU), a team they are vying with for the last play-offs slot, were getting results with ease.

“The situation is now complicated after KIU defeated Power and Warriors. It’s basically out of our hands,” he noted. With a wealth of talent following a massive pre-season recruitment, Eagles were tipped to finish among the top four, but the team struggled to gel especially in the first round.

However, going into Wednesday’s game, they still had a big chance of piping KIU and Nkumba Marines to the last play-offs slot. A good 48-43 first half lead seemed to lift the Eagles but they somehow folded against a Riders side, playing under no pressure.

“I can’t tell what happened,” Miracle centre player Robert Mubiru, said after the match. “It’s so disappointing.” Going into the final session, Miracle still had a five-point advantage but a couple of turnovers put paid to their efforts. The situation is now out of their hands.

If KIU can win their final two games, Eagles will officially be out of contention. “I still believe we can qualify,” Boniface Okello, who managed 17 points against Riders, noted. Rogers Odiama was the hero for Riders, scoring a game high 25 points, while Colin Mukiza and Jimmy Enabu kept Eagles’ defence on its toes.