UGANDA : Play-offs start
Today (Game One)
Power v Falcons (8pm)
UCU v KIU (6pm)
Deafening noise and the most exhilarating basketball will fill the refurbished MTN Arena, Lugogo this evening with the tip-off of the first cluster of 60 Fuba League post-season games.
The week-long wait following a postponement is over and the menu is just as enticing as UCU Lady Canons open their account against KIU Rangers in the Women’s Division semi-finals. That precedes DMark Power’s clash with Mountain Dew Falcons in the men’s Division one as both series are scheduled for five thrillers.
A complete revamp in the paint has made Power more potent. They will feel like favourites to make the final having done the double over Falcons (74-72 and 80-61) this year. The quick transition ‘masters’ also beat the same opposition 3-1 to lift the title two years ago.
“At this point, we are underdogs. Finishing top in the regular season is nothing. The favourites are the defending champions (Kyambogo Warriors),” Power’s vice-captain Isaac Afidra said. Among his teammates, shooting guard Joseph Ikong has the biggest proclamation to make to shed the chokers’ tag following fine form in the regular season. More too is needed from former MVP Ben Komakech.
In Kenyan Smarts Olumbo, Falcons have a coach with a definitive aura of invincibility and respect as he has won multiple titles here with the last having come in 2007. However, their undoing is the uncertainty over players’ salaries in recent weeks. “All that has been sorted and our focus is basketball,” Michael Mureithi, Olumbo’s assistant, shrugged off the discontent after the six-time champions finished fourth. Richard Osano Omondi and Sudi Ulanga have stuck in during the hard times but the return of Bienvenue Ngandu, Peter Elungat and Cedric Sinarinzi will be pivotal.
In the early game, coach Mande Juruni must take his rampant university side UCU to the next level after clinching the top slot. A slide-show will be spared for the shooting prowess of Kenyan import Lorraine Akinyi and KIU’s Susan Amito.