WHEN Power fans flooded the YMCA court at the end of their team’s 83-71 victory over the Kyambogo Warriors in Saturday’s Game 7 of the FUBA men’s final series, it wasn’t clear what they felt: Joy or relief?
After racing out to a 3-0 series lead, there seemed little doubt about where the championship would end up. But Game 4 came and went and there was no title, the same with Game 5.
After failing to win it in Game 6, the nightmare scenario began playing on their mind.
Could they blow it away
“I had sleepless nights ever since we lost Game 6,” Power guard Ben Komakech admitted after Game 7. “The Warriors are a good team; we knew they could still beat us in this game.”
That knowledge was reflected in the defensive alterations which Power made in Game 7. Donald Blick was drafted into the line-up at the expense of Joseph Ikong, who offers little in defending.
Warriors stars locked out
By contrast Blick who can shut down a scoring machine in the opposition and that he did by taking care of Ronnie Kasewu, the Warriors’ star in their three wins. At the end of Game 7, Kasewu had seven points, his lowest in the finals.
But Kasewu wasn’t the biggest victim of Power’s defensive tune-up. It was Abdallah Ramadan, who came into the decider with double-figures in all the previous six games.
In Game 7 Ramadan made two points, suffocating under the watchful eye of Boniface Okello and Richard Balemwa. Ramadan and Kasewu, as well as Jude Ocen had complicated life for Power with their impressive three-pointers but failed to replicate that in Game 7.
The Warriors converted only three of 17 three-pointers, two less than Power, who had 16 attempts.
“It isn’t that Power played better defence today,” Ocen insisted.
“It is just that we had poor shot selection.”
With their frontcourt struggling, Warriors’ big men Eric Malinga and Michael Karuiki put up a fight. Malinga gunned 20 with Michael Karuiki picking 16.
Team effort reigns
Ultimately, though, Power’s Norman Blick and Komakech proved the real stars of the show. Norman grabbed a game-high 22 points and 9 rebounds with Komakech dropping 16. Those two have been Power’s dangermen.
Power’s season has been a team-effort that has seen a natural scorer like Isaac Afidra sacrifice his offence for the good of the team.
In the end, Power were deserving champions even though the Warriors will forever be remembered for pushing them to the limit.
As Ocen pointed out: “We are proud of our performance. We will keep our heads high.”
But obviously Power will keep theirs higher.