18 April 2008

UGANDA : Basketball Fever Back

John Vianney Nsimbe

The basketball league tips off tomorrow with Falcons (men) and KCC Leopards (ladies) looking to defend their titles. Falcons managed to snap Roger Sserunyigo from relegated Charging Rhinos. The small forward brings energy to a team already known for its little flair but machine-like approach. Sserunyigo moves the ball well and defends. But he'll find the competition tight against Sam Obol and Peter Elungat who score more than he does. Sunday Okot, an exciting guard, is another recruit who will bring flair to Falcons.

Falcons owner John Ssimbwa says his club's plan is to build a new team to cushion the long-serving Henry and Eric Malinga plus Obol.

Falcon's main rivals naturally will be UCU Canons. UCU lost to Falcons in last year's playoff semifinals mainly because their big men Eric Nyamai and Herbert Akite were ineffective. Coach Jason Mehl has got Steven Mwesige from Sadolin Power. He's not big but has the knack to collect rebounds and is also crisp in boxing out.

Boxing out is Michael Kariuki's brief. It's a brief that the former Makerere University Heaters big man hopes will work wonders for his new club Kampala International University (KIU). With Mandy Juruni also recruited to fuse his guile with Henry Mwinuka and Pascal Alule, KIU should be quite a treat.
But there will be no Isaac Afidra for KIU. The big man is off to Power to fill the void left by injured Wilbrod Oketcho. Ben Komakech (Miracles) and Joseph Ikong (Heaters) are also good acquisitions for a Power side which should be quite focused this season.

Focus is what Nkumba Marines lacked last season and that's unlikely to change soon because some players like Norman and Donald Blick wanted to move to KCC Lions but team manager Patrick Sebuliba blocked them unless he's apparently given a benz in part exchange. But debutants, KCC Lions will benefit from Nkumba's centre, Carroll Bisereko.

As for the ladies, KCC Leopards should make good use of the gangly frame of former MUK Sparks ace Marion Kaziba. A-1 Challenge will look to push KCC all the way though. With the gifted guard Olivia Mulwana in their stead, A-1 can also like KCC pride in having depth in squad.

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