10 May 2013

UGANDA : NBL: Warriors, Canons face off

By Charles MutebiFIVE months after winning the FUBA men’s national championship, the Kyambogo Warriors meet the team they defeated in the playoff semi-finals on the way to their second title.
Kyambogo face the UCU Canons today at the MTN Arena as the two rivals clash for the first time in what is now the National Basketball League (NBL).
Changes in effect
As the new name of the men’s top division illustrates, things have changed since Kyambogo defeated UCU 73-63 in the decider of their best-of-five semi-final series.
Firstly, the Warriors are now champions having gone on to beat the Falcons 4-2 in the Finals.
UCU are not but look stronger and coach Nick Natuhereza believes they will “at least reach the Finals”.
The Canons have added three useful players to the rotation, including Cyrus Kiviri, who was an important part of Kyambogo’s championship-run last year.
Furthermore, while UCU have strengthened, Kyambogo appear to have weakened, with Kiviri just one of several title-winning players to leave or be on the verge of leaving.
Finals MVP Norman Blick is due to join Power, Stephen Okiasi is headed to Ndejje, centre Sam Gombya is pushing for a move to City Oil.
At the same time, forward Michael Karuiki may not return from Kenya, Eric Malinga is still side-lined by a long-standing knee injury while his brother Henry is also out injured.
Basically, everything points to a tough year for the defending champions, whose signings have been mainly young, unpredictable players.
Focus on top guns
For now, Ronnie Kasewu, Brian Gumisiriza and Ivan Enabu will have to be exception for Kyambogo to compete with title contenders like UCU.
Meanwhile, the Makerere Sparks will need a miracle to stop the Lady Canons from getting their second win of the season in the women’s NBL.
The two sides play the opening game of the day.

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