UGANDA : Power, A-1 win Game 1

by Sande Bashaija

Friday results
Dmark Power 75-71 Warriors
A-1 Challenge 68-65 KCC
Wednesday (Game 2)
A-1 Challenge v KCC 6pm
Warriors v Dmark Power 8pm

For four times this season, Warriors have failed to beat MTN Fuba League champions DMark Power. Twice in the regular season, once in the Zone 5 and now Friday during game one of the best-of-seven final play-off series at YMCA Wandegeya.

On all occasions, Warriors have fought gallantly but failed to inflict a killer punch even on a night like Friday when Power’s defence looked so vulnerable. That’s rather discouraging for any Warriors’ sympathizer seeing that there are only six games left to salvage their season after Power’s 75-71 overtime hard-fought victory.

Maybe Warriors will need to get some tips from former women champions A-1 Challenge, who came into the series as underdogs but managed to stifle KCC Leopards 68-65 in the night’s opening game.

KCC Leopards welcomed back reigning MVP Flavia Oketcho but her presence and 13 points did little to dent the composed A-1 Challenge from taking the much-needed series’ lead.
Composure is exactly what Warriors lacked at crucial moments especially Ronnie Kasewu, who should have won the game for Warriors in the dying moments of regulation time but missed one of his two free throws.

Kasewu, though, managed to level the scores at 66-all, ensuring an extra period of five minutes. The regular four quarters had been so breathtaking and too close to call with the overwhelming crowd literally sharing part of the playing surface with the players. Already with 17 points under his belt, Isaac Afidra seized control of the extra period, scoring four more to help Power emerge victorious 9-6.

Martin Okwako (21 points) and Abduallahi Ramadhan (14) were by far Warriors’ best players of the night but the former squandered a precious opportunity in the final seconds by needlessly attempting a three-pointer instead of going for an easy lay-up that would have probably turned the game on its head.

Norman Blick (14), Joseph Ikong (12) and Michael Kojo (10) were all in double figures for Power. A-1 Challenge had Maggie Nalubega (14), Kassim Hatima (12) and Barbara Okot (11) to thank for their priceless victory over KCC Leopards who missed the services of former MVP Becky Akullo. Leopards’ Miriam Hamala and Annet Nakiwu combined for 35 points.