30 July 2011

UGANDA : Contenders for women’s play-offs

The return of Flavia Oketcho to KCC Leopards has clearly brought the missing championship feeling they haven’t had in a long time. The Leopards are yet to lose a game but are aware they must step up gear to regain the championship.
As the first round nears a climax, Saturday Monitor’s Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo picks out teams KCC Leopards will have to contend with in the postseason in search of their third title.

UCU Lady Canons
In winning the MTN-Fuba League last year, UCU Lady Canons were completely irresistible. A1 Challenge, the team they swept 4-0 in the finals, looked out of depth. It’s not that A1 were bad, UCU had simply raised the bar. Kenyans Anastasia Njeri and Lorraine Akinyi plus play-offs MVP Maureen Amoding were a class act. Njeri has since gone to the United States on a sports scholarship and they aren’t the same team which terrorised all. Amoding, too, is yet to show her potency outside the arc.
Akinyi and Lyn Nalunkuma continue to be efficient with Brenda Mbone and Peace Proscovia in support and still look good enough to win a third title in just five years.

KCC Leopards
Timothy Odeke, the KCC coach, spent the earlier part of the first round complaining about the lack of depth amongst the guards. Oketcho answered his prayers with a timely return.
Now, adding another title to their cabinet is realistic. She arrives with Martha Soigi and Annet Nakiwu still giving them size. Odeke might want more from former play-offs MVP Miriam Hamala and Becky Akullo who are formidable when in their zone.

A1 Challenge
The disappointment of last season gave A1 Challenge every reason to re-think the speed of their team. Guard Mavita Ali retired and they needed to cut the age of the side. Olivia Mulwama is back from her maternity leave but may not be as effective as she was when they won the league title in 2005.
Elizabeth Baziira has looked good in patches but it’s the development of the numerous young players which will define their season.

Makerere Sparks
Just like several former champions, Makerere Sparks find themselves with a huge fight to make the postseason. One day, they look good like the narrow 44-42 loss to A1 envisaged and then slump.

KIU Rangers
Running close to UCU before losing 41-42 when Akinyi blocked Sylvia Nassuna at the buzzer gave KIU lots of belief that they can return to the play-offs for the second straight season.
Losing 60-53 to Magic Stormers provided a timely reminder for Nimrod Kaboha. His trident of Judith Nansobya, Florence Nanyonga and Mercy Etyang must do more to match the frontrunners UCU.

Magic Stormers
Being rank outsiders for a debut postseason appearance, Magic Stormers have no pressure at all. They just amazed themselves in beating KIU.
Stormers are very capable of springing a few more surprises especially against most of the teams and probably upstage UCU on the latter’s off-day.

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