06 November 2012

UGANDA : Champions no more

Power’s bench (right) was stunned while UCU’s Ulanga was mobbed by jubilant fans.
Power’s bench (right) was stunned while UCU’s Ulanga was mobbed by jubilant fans. Photos by ISMAIL KEZAALA.
Sunday Results
Power 69-73 UCU
(UCU win series 2-1)
Ndejje 48-66 Falcons
(Falcons win series 2-0)
W: Gladiators 36-60 A1
Mak Sparks 33-71 KCCA
(A1 and KCCA win series 2-0)
Div. 2: Bush Court 63-60 Sharing
(Bush Court win series 2-1)
Warriors vs. UCU
Falcons vs. KIU
W: UCU vs. A1
KCCA vs. Stormers
Div. 2: City Oilers vs. Bush Court
Rhino vs. UCU JV

After four painful failures in five years, UCU Canons now know how it feels to win a Fuba League playoff series.
The new-found calmness of centre Desmond Owili delivered a nervy 73-69 victory on Sunday at the Lugogo MTN Arena to end DMark Power’s quest of winning three successive titles.
Centre Owili treaded a thin line, picking three fouls inside the first two quarterfinals, but kept his head unlike on many previous occasions.
He scored four of his 15 points and 10 rebounds in the fourth period as UCU clinched the best-of-three quarterfinals 2-1. UCU face old-nemesis Warriors in the semifinals.
Forward Martin Okwako also had four of his 12 points and 11 rebounds to erase a five-point deficit (49-54) at the start of the final quarter.
UCU effectively became better closers on their fifth appearance in the playoffs. “They wanted me out of the game but God helped me stay calm,” Owili, who finished with four fouls, said. The Kenyan scored 22 points in the 80-64 Game One victory for the fifth seed to overcome not only the fourth seed but also a five-time champion.
Reserve point guard Emmanuel Enabu almost denied them with 24 points. He is the only Power player who didn’t deserve to finish on the losing side.
No wonder he cried most in a locker-room that should have been labeled graveyard instead, just adjacent to one that had loud celebrations.
“All season, the hunger hasn’t been there,” two-time MVP Ben Komakech, 12 points in the decider to finish on a paltry 30 for the series, lamented. His coach Bernice Ankunda, whose mother was in the stands, had already raised concerns about Komakech’s form after Game Two which Power won 71-62.
This time, he blamed the group especially down the stretch when UCU ‘big men’ created gaping holes in the key. “Our decision making and discipline on defence was lacking,” Ankunda noted. Sudi Ulanga, 17 points, five of them in the final four minutes when he returned, and reserve Brian Namake, 14 points, made it four Canons in double figures.
The latter has perhaps impressed as much as Ulanga, Owili and Okwako. Their coach Nicholas Natuhereza wants the celebration to stop immediately. “Let’s not get carried away. I wish the excitement stops now because we have tough series coming up,” Natuhereza said.
No one is hearing him now till Friday.

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