18 December 2012

UGANDA : Warriors champions

From one combination of players to the next, Warriors just never struck the right chords in their pursuit of Fuba League success.
They finally found it, mainly thanks to some ‘old’ brooms. Three years after their first championship, Ronnie Kasewu, the MVP then, returned to his old self.
His game-high 25 points, six rebounds and five assists gave Warriors an enthralling 88-81 win over Falcons and a second title with 4-2 series margin at the Lugogo MTN Arena on Sunday night.

“Guys were focused. We knew we could beat these guys and the moment we led, we knew they weren’t coming back,” Kasewu, a Warrior since 1998, said.

Falcons led this best-of-seven series 1-0 and 2-1. Warriors hit back to win three in a row and bury the pain of losing to DMark Power in the past two years and give Ivan Enabu his first title.The close-out victory had everything to do with Kasewu. It included 15 points in the fourth period. He was three for three beyond the arc while carrying the burden of four fouls.

Guard Jude Ochen, a reserve who moved from Falcons to Warriors 11 years ago, added 16 points and eight rebounds, going five for seven from downtown.
“We just had to avoid Game Seven,” Ochen said. Warriors lost two Game Sevens in the past two seasons. “It had to end today (Sunday). This is a great achievement for us.”

‘No game seven’
Their fans agreed. Leading 77-72 with three minutes and seven seconds to play, Warriors fans started chanting “no game seven.” Falcons fought back to tie it at 78-up.

Norman Blick’s three-pointer gave them an 81-78 lead. “The difference has been composure. Last year, we panicked when he had a lead,” coach Mandy Juruni said.
In Game Seven last year, Warriors held a 12-point advantage (89-77) with five minutes and 12 seconds to play only to go down 97-99 and lose the series 3-4.

Again, the best game of this series was still there to be won even with 21 seconds to play.

With Warriors leading 85-81, Falcons’ Abdullahi Ramadhan was called for a five-second violation, failing to inbound under pressure from Blick.
Kasewu and Ochen were part of the Warriors’ team that lost to Falcons 3-2 in the 2007 final but they too needed a new broom to sweep clean.

Blick, signed from Miracle Eagles this year, scored 13 points and eight rebounds. He finished the series with a tally of 97 points, 33 rebounds and 11 assists.

Now a five-time champion, Blick should be the front runner for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) accolade to be handed out today following Game Seven of the women’s final.

There was no denying Warriors. Not even six Falcons scoring double figures in the elimination game could halt them.

Centre Philip Ameny was quick to acknowledge Warriors. “They are champions, they deserve it. They wanted it more than us,” Ameny, 18 points and 12 rebounds, said.

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