Results – Friday
Power 76-70 Falcons
UCU 74-60 KIU
Today at Lugogo
UCU v Warriors (8pm)
KCC v A-1 (6pm)
DMark Power and UCU Lady Canons drew first blood in their respective openers of the best-of-five Fuba League semifinal play-offs at the MTN-NCS Arena Lugogo on Friday night.
Whereas UCU easily steamrolled KIU Rangers 74-60, Power needed to recover from a relatively slow start to defeat archrivals Mountain Dew Falcons 76-70.
Having struggled to make their way past a disorganised entrance system that left one door open, it was worth the wait for the capacity crowd as Power feasted on Falcons’ wobbling finish.
The six-time champions took the first two quarters 17-13 and 16-13 but they will look back to 19 costly turnovers in comparison to Power’s 11 as the reason for being one down ahead of game two on Wednesday.
Isaac Afidra had 15 points and seven rebounds to negate the absence of skipper Norman Blick (1), who sustained a wound of his right palm early in the first period but played through pain with blood dripping. “Passion and character won us the game,” Power assistant coach Brian Wathum said. Perhaps, Falcons’ chances had faded earlier in the week with the exit of Bienvenue Ngandu and Mike Buzangu over unpaid dues.
Richard Osano Omondi almost made up for their absence with 13 points and nine rebounds only to foul out with two minutes and 13 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter. However, the mercurial Kenyan’s five turnovers contributed to Peter Elungat (14-7-1), Sam Obol (13-5-4), Cedric Sinarinzi (10-4-5) and Sudi Ulanga (7-5-5) ending up on the losing side.
Isaac Luggude (11), Robert Mubiru (10) and former MVP Ben Komakech (8-6-2) supported Afidra even though it was Boniface Okello’s role that provided the difference.
The latter, a substitute, was crucial as Power employed the full court press in the third period to score eight answered points. They took the quarter 29-14 before freezing out Falcons 21-23 in the fourth. Earlier, Lorraine Akinyi made a monumental 29 points and 25 rebounds for UCU cannons to move within two victories of a final appearance.