15 September 2010

UGANDA : Miracle turns up the heat in Fuba league

Written by Felix Eupal

By all accounts, Miracle basketball team, despite its 15-year existence, is average and has never made the playoffs.

Over the years, they have delivered so little that Brian Mingi, the CEO, took matters in his hands at times by giving instructions on the sidelines. That was the case until they signed new coach Brian Rugyendo before the start of the season.

Around the same time, league champions Warriors downsized their squad and Miracle offered Warriors rejects like Albert Aciko, Francis Kasekende and Nelson Wafula a soft landing.

The search didn’t stop there; they also acquired Collins Mukiza and Derrick Mbuusi from relegation-threatened Knight Rhiders.

Meanwhile, the pair of Caesar Kizito and Ronald Bajjunga graduated from Miracle’s junior team MBC Rocks as Edwin Kateregga joined the bandwagon from Falcons.

But there was one missing part to make the puzzle complete; an inspirational player who would drive the rest of the team. Mingi tirelessly tried to get the services of Stephen Okias but the player made a U-turn at the eleventh hour.
Enter Omony

Then out of nowhere - like the biblical manna from heaven, Stephen Omony availed himself as a free agent.

Omony is arguably the best talent to have grace Ugandan basketball and Miracle didn’t think twice before recruiting him. On his unveiling, a calm Omony said he was not a small god as most people assumed; his main agenda was to get the team to the playoffs.

That agenda started with the regional Zone V Club Championship held last month in Bujumbura. The underdogs stunned everyone winning two group games which included a first over Warriors.

From then on, the team that has spent most of their topflight fighting relegation suddenly discovered a fighting spirit with Omony captaining the ship. On Tuesday, they moved a step nearer to achieving a playoff berth when they pipped second-placed UCU Canon 79-74 thanks to Omony’s 35 points.

Omony’s inspirational play is rubbing off the team and has given the other players the confidence, belief and never-say-die attitude. Rugyendo knows it’s still a long way and won’t let his boys become complacent. “We will take every game as it comes,” he says. For now, they lie sixth but it’s hard to bet against them making the playoffs.

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