UGANDA : Warriors lead Ugandan charge at Zone Five
The Zone Five basketball Club Championship starts today in Burundi with Uganda represented by three men and two ladies teams. FELIX EUPAL analyses their chances of success.
National champions and last year’s losing finalists, Warriors set the Zone Five as their main goal for this season and the pre-season signings say it all.
Coach Gad Eteu seems to have found the missing part of the puzzle in his squad following the acquisition of the Malinga brothers from Falcons. That said, they will need to play as a team to have any chance of upstaging the competition.
On the other hand, no team goes into the tourney with a more fascinating story than Mukono-based UCU Canons; in a space of one season, they lost the brains and heart of the team in coach Jason Mehl and flirted with relegation before recovering to enjoy a ten-game winning streak.
And now, they have a shot at the Zone Five. Unfortunately the university calendar doesn’t come in handy; the Zone Five coincides with the examination period at the University.
Then the championship’s foreign based player rule, which limits every team to only two foreigners, has also adversely affected them. Adam Njorore, Kenneth Rotti, Naftary Msogoti and Robert Mugabe are all sitting out this one. Only skipper Jeff Omondi and Robert Ogweno make it as the foreigners.
The Enabu brothers; Ivan and Jimmy will have to put their hearts out if the Canons are to continue living the dream.
That cannot be said of Miracle, who only got confirmation on August 10. All eyes will be on the new star signing Stephen Omony and his ability to carry the team but little is expected of them apart from the exposure.
In the ladies category, KCC Leopards lead the way and their coach Timothy Odeke has proved many times that he can get something out of nothing and having a squad has been there and done that will be an added advantage.
Whether he can win the Zone Five is another matter altogether. The other ladies team, UCU Lady Canons, are faced with several hiccups. Their star Brenda Mbone misses the tournament due to exams while the scoring machine Frances Nabulobi is ruled out with an injury.
This leaves last season’s top scorer Lorraine Akinyi and Maureen Amoding with a big burden on their shoulders. Meanwhile the 16th edition of the schools sprite basketball tournament starts today at Manjansi High School, Tororo with 25 schools, both boys and girls, participating in the one week tournament.
A technical team from the American NBA will select the 30 best players who will join another set chosen from within Kampala. The overall best five will travel to the US for further training.
Coca Cola promotions manager Kennedy Mutenyo says that this is an invitational tournament and each participating team will receive free accommodation, a Sprite basketball uniform and balls among others. The tournament aims to uplift basketball in schools and also tap talent for the clubs and national teams.