25 November 2012

UGANDA : It’s a Warriors-Falcons 2012 Fuba playoff final

Warriors centre Gombya (with ball) elated the packed NCS arena.
Warriors centre Gombya (with ball) elated the packed NCS arena. Photos by Ismail Kezaala.
By Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo
Five years have passed since Falcons and Warriors contested a Fuba League final with the former coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2. The two best teams at the end of this year’s regular season will face-off in the final for the first time since 2007 starting this week. They came through their respective best-of-five semifinals 3-2 on Friday night. Falcons beat KIU Titans 72-57 and Warriors overcame UCU Canons 73-63.
Centre Philip Ameny scored 21 points and added 11 rebounds to take Falcons to their first final in four years. DMark Power beat them 3-1 on their last trip.
It’s been years of toil and pain crowned by the death of founder and patron John Ssimbwa last year. Fittingly, the record champions with six titles had a portrait of him on their bench.
That may not have spurred Falcons into demolition mode but they did just enough. Stephen Omony added 12 points and 15 rebounds whereas Geoff Omondi and Peter Elungat scored 13 apiece. They restricted KIU’s top scorer – Michael Makiadi – to 12 points – one more than what each of Salim Ali and Richard Osano managed. The latter two had combined for 44 in Game Four.
If that game was incident free, UCU, a university side just like KIU, lost their heads again to go down 3-2 to Warriors for a third successive season at the same stage. The umpires dished no less than six un-sportsman fouls to UCU in the fourth period with Boniface Okello being ejected for accumulating two.
Warriors’ guard Ivan Enabu resurrected to play his best game this season. It was worth 19 points and three assists, and earned him cheers only rivaled by Sam Gombya’s during the introductions.
“God works in mysterious ways,” Enabu, still searching for a first championship, said. “It has been a very hard trip to the finals. I hope we win this time.”
Fourth final
This is going to be Warriors’ fourth successive appearance in the final. They have emerged triumphant only once – 2009. To get here, Michael Kariuki gave them a fast start with 10 of his 15 points and 10 rebounds coming in the first half. Ronnie Kasewu, the 2009 MVP, added 10. “I have lots of memories with Falcons,” veteran Henry Malinga, a Falcon until 2009, said. “This is a final and I always play my best in the final.”
A teary-eyed Sudi Ulanga blamed himself as none his 11 points came in the fourth period, a second successive game this has happened. Desmond Owili put up their last stand with 29 points and 17 rebounds. UCU just didn’t do enough offensively besides Owili. The cancer of not winning close-out games like one they had last Sunday when they held a 2-1 lead continues to let them down.

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