04 May 2013

UGANDA : Top 10 - Things to Look Out for in New Hoops Season

The National basketball league is already underway and there is buzz on what this season will offer and who walk away with the championship.
Felix Eupal looks at the issues that will make headlines in the next nine months.
1. What will it take for Fuba to clean up there mess?
Local basketball body, Fuba, is not among the rotten sports organisations in the country but neither are Fuba leaders saints. With each passing season, Fuba comes up with weird decisions.
Two weeks back, Fuba was at it again when Ndejje Angels honoured their fixture against Heaters only for Fuba to call off the game because Heaters were not ready. According to Fuba rules and regulations, Ndejje should have been awarded victory and four points.
But to the surprise of Ndejje head coach Walker Obedi, Fuba didn't do that. And nothing has happened since. Which makes one wonder; why did Fuba register a team that wasn't ready?
2. How far will the Oilers go?
League debutants City Oilers have played two games so far but they already have the crowd talking. They narrowly lost 65-68 to Dmark Power in the opening game before blowing away Miracle Eagles 102-44. They look solid, convert on the transition with ease and they've looked good in the absence of 6'8 Rwandan centre Kami Kabange. Kabange will be around for their next fixture against Galaxy Falcons on May17.
The Oilers have set themselves a target of reaching the quarterfinals but already, they look like they can do better than that. And with last year's winning coach Mandy Juruni calling the shots, anything can happen.
3. Is this the end of Miracle?
After sponsor Rubaga Miracle Centre Church threw out the team, Miracle is a collapsing squad. Management is running the team on a shoestring budget and have only nine players of which only seven play meaning full basketball. At this rate they might need to call on the fans to come from the stands and make up the numbers. Otherwise, they need a miracle to stay up.
4. Can Warriors defend their title?
Only Falcons, Nkumba Marines and Power have been able to defend league titles in the men's topflight. Reigning champions Warriors are talking of dominating the region but on paper, their new recruits don't promise much and have not been tested in pressure moments.
Even new coach Emma Samanya is in his first season in charge of a topflight team. Factor in the departure of Norman Blick and Cyrus Kiviri and the Warriors look like an experimental team.
5. When will the long-awaited hoops arrive?
Last year, Fuba announced the acquisition of state-of-the-art hoops which they would replace with the old crappy ones at the Lugogo arena. Unfortunately Fuba officials said that they failed to get hoops because of the high taxes levied by Uganda Revenue Authority. Twelve months down the road, the hoops have still not been cleared. As per now, the basketball fraternity is still waiting.
6. Who will be the new sponsor?
Last year, telecom company Airtel Uganda announced a one-year sponsorship with Fuba. That deal expired and hasn't been renewed. Fuba highlighted that they are still working on securing sponsorship and that they would be calling for a press conference to announce who that will be. That was three weeks ago. Fans and stakeholders are still waiting on who the new sponsor will be.
7. Nothing will change in the women's league
After splitting the women's division into two, with each having eight teams, little has changed in terms of quality and competitiveness. It's still a two-horse race between UCU Lady Canons and KCCA, and the pair are leaps and bounds ahead of the chasing pack.
8. How will the issue of spreading the games to various regions work out?
Fuba's development league (formerly Division III) is made up of 25 teams. Fuba agreed that teams coming from various regions will play games from their home areas. The development league and Division III kick -off is slated for May 16 and so far, it seems a great move on paper but in reality, it leaves a lot to be desired going by Fuba's limited resources and lack of a sponsor.
9. Who will walk away with the title?
It is always the first question on fans lips before the start of a season. Going by how all teams have prepared, the Canons and Power look much better positioned to contest the playoff final.
10. Will we have the traditional dinner?
This might come as a by-the-way but last year, for the first time in seven years, Fuba failed to host an awards dinner. The excuse was lack of money despite having secured two big sponsors in Airtel and Castle Lite. The dinner and awards gala is a basketball tradition which speaks a lot about the organization of a federation. Fuba needs to quit whining and get it back.

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