21 August 2011
UGANDA : Falcons live to die another day
The most successful club in Ugandan basketball remains on the brink of relegation following a points deduction by local basketball body Fuba.
But, a win over champions Power, coupled with their vow to overturn Fuba’s decision, has reinvigorated the side, writes Felix Eupal
It’s been a trying past few weeks for the side; having lost John Ssimbwa – the club founder – earlier in the season, the club struggled for form and lost to Kyambogo Warriors and Miracle Eagles not to mention UCU Canons. To add insult to injury, Fuba docked them seven points for allegedly fielding an illegal player in Kenyan Phillip Amenyi.
And while 7UpFalcons president Dennis Mbidde insists he will challenge the decision, claiming Ameni played under protest before his former employers Kenyan side KCB confirmed he had been released, Fuba’s technical committee chairman William Musaazi maintains it was within the constitution to penalise Falcons.
Distractions aside, Falcons hired former A1 Challenge coach Hamza Nyambogo and the move paid instant dividends as they saw off Power in a pulsating and morale-boosting 79-68 victory. Mbidde’s chest-thumping at the final whistle says it all.
But despite Nyambogo doing the simple things right that predecessor Sam Obol failed, the fact that relegation is still staring them right in the face cannot even be erased off by the win against Power. With four wins and six losses, Falcons currently lie second from bottom in the 10-team topflight with eleven points. This, if Fuba’s decision stands, is Falcons worst start to a season.
Ameni featured in the loss to Warriors and the win over Charging Rhino but according to the rules, they forfeited the three points gained from the two games plus another possible four points they would have collected in the two second round matches because they will not be allowed to play the same fixtures come the second round.
Battle lines drawn
“Ameni never played as an illegal player,” says Mbidde. “I will do whatever it takes to expose the disorganisation in Fuba even if it means going to courts to have them undo their decision.” Mbidde also cites the game against UCU Canons, in which his player was stopped from playing yet he had already secured his transfer release.
Musaazi, on the other hand, remains unfazed; “this is not a matter of courts of law and there are so many avenues that have to first hear the case like National Council of Sports,” he says.
At the moment, only a miracle can put Falcons in the playoffs because they have to first fight off relegation. Should the two parties fail to reach an agreement, we could be headed for a repeat of 2009 standof when no team was relegated due to the technical committee’s failure to reach a common ground.