15 November 2012

UGANDA : UCU Canons defend ‘dirty’ tactics

UCU Canons centre Desmond Owili (R) fights for the ball in Game Two on Sunday.
UCU Canons centre Desmond Owili (R) fights for the ball in Game Two on Sunday. That game will be for long remembered for its physicality. Photo by Ismail Kezaala
By Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo
There is such a thin line between being physical and dirty that while many think Warriors and UCU Canons might have crossed it, the two protagonists totally disagree.
Last Sunday’s Game Two which Warriors won 66-56 to level the best-of-five Fuba League semifinal playoff series at 1-1 had too many ugly sides. “All the papers, social media seems to have been taken by surprise. This is playoffs,” UCU coach Nicholas Natuhereza said.
Tempers flared as UCU tried to win two successive games in a series for the first time in six attempts and also avoid losing to Warriors for a third time in as many years.
Almost everyone got involved as the umpires failed to control the game. Warriors’ Ivan Enabu deserved an ejection at the very least for punching Sande Okot way after the whistle went against him. Further incidents involved Jude Ochen clearly hitting Sudi Ulanga and Desmond Owili’s elbow sending Cyrus Kiviri to hospital. The bruised were not innocent as all these favours were returned.
All these were given as fouls and there will be no further sanctions since the umpires called those incidents and the use of television replays is not in the rules. However, UCU felt victimized as fans booed centre Owili when he walked off on a poor night. “It is just amazing how some people are trying to make Warriors seem the victims after all the cheap shots we took from them,” Natuhereza added. “We play physical not dirty.”
UCU have made a habit of losing their heads before throwing away games. Sunday represented a near-return to their old selves. They seemed to have lost belief the moment Warriors took charge early in the fourth. Mandy Juruni sees the glass as half-full. “We were one game down so I think the players played hard, we worked hard,” the Warriors coach said. “The team spirit of UCU is very high now. They are different from the regular season. They have really stepped up,” he noted.

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