Written by Felix Eupal
It’s the time of the season every basketball fan craves for: when contenders have been separated from pretenders, the villains become heroes and the real games begin.
It’s the playoff time and they kick off on October 22. This time round, the favourites are the two 2008 winners; Dmark Power and UCU Lady Canons in the men and ladies categories respectively. Back then, Power won their second championship in dedication to Wilbrod Okecho, who passed away a few months earlier while the Lady Canons won their first title in just their second year in existence.
Two years down the road, both teams topped their respective divisions at the end of the regular season with two losses a piece. The Lady Canons fell to A1 Challenge and KCC Leopards in the first round while UCU Canons and Kyambogo Warriors were the only teams to dent Power’s perfect record.
That’s why the two teams stand heads and shoulders above the opposition and are odds-on favourites to win their respective title
Dmark too Powerful
The players are known for their swagger off the court but when it comes to doing business on court, no team beats them. They twice took highly fancied Mountain Dew Falcons to school in clinical fashion and last Wednesday, gave UCU Canons, the second placed team, a beating of a life time with a resounding 30-point margin.
Unlike other teams that rely on laid out strategies, Power’s biggest asset is simply running down their opponents. Rebounding was their undoing last season but Boniface Okello, new recruits Robert Mubiru and Isaac Lugudde put a stop to it.
That’s not to say Power is unstoppable; they still have disciplinary problems and at times the players’ commitment is doubtable. So many times they have taken some opponents for granted but they know best that this is not the time to be complacent.
Isaac Afidra, the assistant captain and top scorer last season reckons there is still more to come: “once we focus and utilise our inside play, no one will know how to stop us.”
UCU Lady Canons
It’s been argued in some circles that local basketball body, Fuba, should hand over the championship to Lady Canons even before the playoffs. They have scored more points than any other team and conceded the least.
This clearly shows that they have the best offense and defense in the women’s league. They are also the only team to have more than one player for each position. Thus internal competition is fierce. On the technical side, Mandy Juruni doesn’t need to prove his credentials having led KCC Leopards to the championship in 2007 with hardly any talent but just a bunch of former netballers.
UCU small forward Maureen Amoding notes that the team strength lies in mobility, team chemistry and defence. “We run faster than our opponents and are always together as a team,” she says.