01 June 2012

UGANDA : Early bragging rights at stake

Forget June 22, archrivals DMark Power and Warriors will clash today at YMCA court, exactly three weeks earlier than scheduled. The game between the two most dominant teams in recent years is a fitting way to introduce new sponsors upon rebranding as the Airtel National Basketball League this week. Power and Warriors have contested the finals in each of the last years. The former have gone to lift the title on the latter two occasions.
Has the game come too soon? “It’s a reality check. The result is destiny and I believe in God. Win or lose, we will learn something,” Power coach Bernice Ankunda responded.
Predictably, both are unbeaten thus far and this is the first significant step to finishing as seed one. However, UCU Canons, Falcons and KIU Titans are bound to have a say. Warriors’ Mandy Juruni rested his starting five except Sam Gombya in the 83-55 rout of Giant Stormers on Wednesday. Gombya, 7ft 1in, continued his dominance in the paint with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Donald Blick chalked up 17 points.
This is the game players live for and Ivan Enabu should play despite missing the last two with pain in the heel. “Ivan is 50-50. Training is the same as usual for every game but in such games, it’s the players’ mindset that changes,” Juruni reasoned.

Afidra returnsAnkunda, going for a third successive title, is banking on the leadership of Isaac Afidra, who returns following a back injury. “Isaac has been working hard and pushing himself. He reads the game well and will bring the leadership we have been lacking,” his coach said. Afidra played on Saturday for the first time since December when he sunk the game-changing three-pointer in Game Seven.
Power won that 99-97 to clinch the final series 4-3 and consequently bury last season’s regular season losses to Warriors six feet under. Every ticket bought will be complemented by Sh2, 000 airtime.
Former women’s champions Makerere Sparks will warm the stage with a clash against KIU Rangers.
Sparks won the league title in 2003 but have since engaged a reverse gear and are once again likely to miss out on the last four like they have done in the past few years.

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