11 November 2012

UGANDA : UCU draw first blood

Sudi (right) came to the fore for UCU against Warriors on Friday.
Sudi (right) came to the fore for UCU against Warriors on Friday. PHOTO BY Ismail Kezaala.
Warriors 68-74 UCU
W: UCU 67-52 A1
(Both UCU teams lead series 1-0)
UCU vs. Warriors (7.30pm)
W: A1 vs. UCU (6pm)
Div. 2: City Oilers vs. Bush Courts (4.30pm)
Rhino vs. UCU JV (3pm)
UMU vs. B. Jackets (1.30pm)
Ssaku vs. Silver Force (12pm)
When the heavens opened earlier on Friday, many a basketball fan must have feared a repeat of last year. YMCA court’s outdoor nature, despite its reliability, comes with its vagaries. Just one year ago, Game One of the Fuba League playoffs best-of-five semifinals was washed out.
Warriors and UCU Canons were the actors. With Lugogo inaccessible on Friday night, the threat of another washout at the eternal sanctuary was all over.
The heavens still opened most of the afternoon. This time, the floor dried up and the two scheduled games took off save for partial light as some floodlights never lit. By 1am when the two games were finished, the two UCU teams knew it was worth the wait after all. Both needed to be lethal in the fourth quarter to take 1-0 leads.
Two-time women’s defending champions UCU Lady Canons overcame a sluggish start to defeat A1 Challenge 67-52 with Peace Proscovia scoring 17 points and 10 rebounds. The late night trip to Mukono was even made happier by Sudi Ulanga. The guard scored six of his game-high 23 points in the final four minutes to defeat Warriors 74-68.
The game was tied at 62-up with 3.37 on the clock before he blew it wide open. “We have worked a lot on our finishing especially in narrow games,” Ulanga said. “In the past, we never really handled pressure well. With time, we have gotten to know what to do,” his coach Nicholas Natuhereza said.
Martin Okwako and Desmond Owili added 12 points each, the latter picking seven rebounds in what is proving to be good post season so far.
UCU maintained their Game One prowess having not lost a series opener since 2007, a streak that includes winning six in six. “The challenge now is to win Game Two,” Natuhereza said, wary of having lost 3-2 in each of the past two years to the same opposition at this stage. That critical Game Two is today at the Lugogo MTN Arena.
Norman Blick’s 19 points and seven rebounds had put Warriors in a commanding position with guards Cyrus Kiviri (15) and Ivan Enabu (13) supporting him. “After the first three quarters, we stopped sharing the ball,” Blick said. The four-time champion was perhaps right but it had everything to do with UCU.
The university side stepped up on defence snatch the final period 27-14. Blick, Kiviri and Enabu all withered like dying flowers.
UCU, fifth at the end of the regular season, have already come through a tougher series, beating DMark Power 2-1. This is the first real challenge for top seed Warriors who breezed past Heaters 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

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