13 June 2011

UGANDA : How far can Miracle go?

Written by Dorothy Kyamazima & Felix Eupal

What do you do when you have two of the best players in the league but don’t have a coach to lead them on the touchline?

Let them be their own coaches. But it didn’t work out so well. Bring in your most trusted prodigal son. That’s exactly what Miracle Eagles did. As it is, Fuba publicist and former player Joe Burua is now calling the shots. He hasthe daunting task of changing the history books of the Rubaga based side. And with just two games in charge, we can comfortably use the tagline, ‘so far so good.’

Although Burua won ugly against KIU Titans - his first game in charge, last Friday’s 87-79 win over UCU Canons was a bigger statement. The sceptics might have to chill with the chorus of whether he can handle this year’s league ‘favourites’.

At the start of the season Miracle exposed too many hiccups with Skipper Steven Omony playing out two roles - as player and coach. But six weeks into the league, Uganda’s ‘Miami Heat,’ as they fancy to be called, are showing that they are not just another team gracing the basketball charts. Their five-game winning streak says it all.

Perhaps the question to ask is: what does Burua bring to the table?

Burua, a former national team player may not have noticeable coaching credentials, but he is quite something when you check the Fuba archives. He holds the Ugandan record for the most points scored in a game - 68 against Kisumu Lakers in the 1992 version of the Abraham Lincoln tournament.

The feat might not be credible enough to grant him the respect of his two stars, Omony and Norman Blick but, at least, he is getting the results and for him, this is all that matters.
“Right now our target is to get to the playoffs. The team may not have the chemistry it needs but they are adaptive. What you throw at us, is what we throw back,” he says.

His other philosophy is to give everyone an equal chance once on court.
“If you prove to me that you deserve to be on court, then you will be there,” he says.

And the philosophy worked, at least against the Canons because everything wasn’t about Omony and Blick. Ronald Bajunga, Collins Mukiza and Edwin Kateregga were involved in the game. As a result, the mood in the camp is gradually changing, the friction is fading and everyone knows they have an equal chance.

With such belief, it’s game on against next opponents Nkumba Marines.

Being dependent on the Big 2 may hinder their progress as
By Dorothy Kyamazima

For years now, the Miracle Eagles have been trying to step out of the shadows and into the limelight with the other big contenders in the league, though little can be said about their achievements.

With no entry into the playoffs the past three years, they could undoubtedly be mistaken for just another team gracing the Fuba charts. However, this season, the Eagles have stepped up to the plate. Five weeks into the season and Miracle Eagles are off to a great start. With six competitors out of the way, they stand clear with five wins and one loss. But does this mean they are ready for playoffs?

Yes a win is a win, but with the way Miracle has forged its way to where it stands now, a lot can be said to be sheer luck. Considering their narrow escape from the clutches of Falcons and the game that went into overtime with KIU Titans, the Eagles have a lot to master when it comes to making a statement, especially against the other big competitors.

For one, the decision on who steps on that court and who doesn’t matters a lot. Many critics have noted with care, how the Eagles are dependent on mainly two players; Stephen Omony and Norman Blick. But with a team that has plenty of talented players, is this a wise decision since it does create some sort of friction with the rest of the players?

With the empty seat on the bench being filled by Joe Burua, their new coach, Miracle stands more of a fighting chance than when it had Stephen Omony manning the bench instead of taking part in the action. However, it remains to be seen whether he is the right man for the job.

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