28 October 2008

UGANDA : Sadolin Power Not Scared of Anyone, Says Afidra

by Sande Bashaija
Kampala

As the MTN-Fuba League play-offs draw closer, all possible postseason candidates are strategizing and monitoring their opponents. Every team would be happy to take on a weaker opponent in the best of three semifinal series that get underway on November 7.

For starters, the leading four teams after the regular season make the play-offs with number one playing four and two against three. Ideally, every team would love to finish top and engage number four, which is considered weaker. But Sadolin Power skipper Isaac Afidra says his team is unbothered. According to him, every team that makes the postseason is strong enough to win the championship.
"Things are very different when it comes to play-offs. I wouldn't say I want us to play a certain team because they are all strong," Afidra told Score Line after Power got the better of Kyambogo Warriors 79-75 at Lugogo last Wednesday.

Yet, Warriors is the team many had tipped to take this year's championship after an impressive first round performance that saw them lose only once. While Warriors were sailing through their first round fixtures but one against lowly Miracle Eagles, all their championship rivals including UCU Canons and Falcons were struggling.
Power equally had a torrid time in first round, losing three of their nine games and few If any considered them serious championship contenders.

Okecho's death

In returning to Power from Kampala International University (KIU), Afidra couldn't wait to link up with Wilbrod Okecho. Everyone was talking about how the duo's partnership would torment opponents. But the most unfortunate happened as Okecho died of bullet wounds on May 14.
Okecho seemed to have left a gap too big to fill but Power have surprisingly responded positively. Since the second round got underway at the beginning of September, they have only lost once in seven games.

But that controversial 46-48 loss to Falcons and Okecho's death haven't dissuaded Power from chasing a third championship. With only one regular season game, Power are leading the standings on 30 points, one ahead of Warriors. UCU Canons trail them on 28.
Whereas Power have proved consistent, their likely semifinal opponents UCU Canons are on the wane. Unbeaten in last year's regular season, Canons have so far recorded six losses and may not be strong enough to deal with Power's might.

Going by current form, Power can only be considered underdogs if they come up against defending champions Falcons in the finals. It's one side that has always troubled Power, even when they (Falcons) are not in convincing form.
"We are taking it a game at a time. It's not in order to talk of facing Falcons in the final when we haven't made it there. Basketball is too unpredictable but our team looks good and ready for any challenge," Afidra, who only returned to action last week after a three-month lay-off noted.

Behind Power's impressive run is one unsung hero in Barnes Ankunda, a former Nkumba Marines player who has taken it upon himself to control the team bench. "People overlook Barnes but he has done a good job. Players do respect what he does and all credit to him," Afidra said.

Overlooked as a player while still at Marines, Barnes could guide Power to a first trophy since 2000 when the season climaxes next month. For now, Power look odds on favourites but transforming the current form into medals is their biggest challenge.

Wednesday at Lugogo
Sparks v Nabisunsa 5pm
Biston v Rhino 6:30pm
KIU v Crane High 8pm

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