“For us as Warriors we win wars not battles, so the game against Falcons will be taken as a battle,” Ambrose Tashobya, who doubles as FUBA and Warriors president announced prior to the game between defending champions Kyambogo Warriors and Mountain Dew Falcons on Friday night. But by the end of the match, the Warriors had failed to win the battle, falling 67-66 to Falcons at YMCA grounds. How did it get here? At the start of the season, Warriors set themselves three targets; defend the title they won last year, claim the Zone Five championship to be played in Burundi three months from now, and get to the semi-finals of the Africa Club Championship.
Ten games into the regular season, however, the targets are yet to be reached, despite putting up what was arguably their best performance since they went on a shopping spree that brought in Orom Makmot, Henry Kariuki, Pascal Alule and the Malinga brothers, Henry and Eric. They still lack that cutting edge and composure to get the win.
Coach Gad Eteu who came out in what looked like his Sunday best suit believes it was simply a “lapse in concentration” and hopes that they will get there.
Despite Eteu’s positive attitude, three losses to title contenders, Falcons, UCU Canons and Dmark Power paints a gloomy picture of what lies ahead. The squad is under pressure to play flawless basketball which they can’t seem to do.
From the look of things, Warriors need to return to the market and get a point guard who can set the tempo, the plays and unlock defences because their offense and defence is slow. Skipper Jude Ocen might have showed the true qualities of a leader by playing while sick, but even when he is fine, he hasn’t looked like that point guard who can get you to the promised land.
The lack of a natural ball handler explains why and how Warriors lost. They had a total of 24 turnovers, 12 more than Falcons, managed only two steals, while Falcons had 11 and most importantly, 18 assists, five short of Falcons’ 23. These are pivotal issues and revolve around the point guard.
The lack of team chemistry is also still an issue for Eteu. With such a wealthy bench, Eteu keeps rotating the team, making it hard for the players to prove their worth. Henry managed only 11 points, while Eric had only six. Ronnie Kasewu, who played for 30 minutes, the most time by any Warrior player, had only 18 points.
Critics have argued that this is simply the first round and Warriors will soon be unstoppable when it matters most. But for a team to be a champion, they need to register wins. If Warriors have failed to win that battle, then how would they win the wars?