14 July 2013

UGANDA : Outstanding Afidra keeps DMark’s winning streak

Afidra picking a rebound against UCU last year in the playoff series Power lost.
Afidra picking a rebound against UCU last year in the playoff series Power lost. The veteran played one of his best games of the season as Power beat UCU. pHOTO BY I. KEZAALA 

Friday Results
M: Power 82-75 UCU
W: UCU 79-49 Stormers
Today’s games
M: KIU vs Ndejje (7.30pm)
Heaters vs Falcons (3.30pm)
W: Gladiators vs A1 (5.30pm)
KIU vs Nabisunsa (1.50)
DMark Power really want their Airtel National Basketball League title. No one wants it more than Isaac Afidra, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) when they last won it in 2011.
On Friday night, the forward put on a clinic for the biggest crowd of the season and Power beat UCU Canons 82-75 at a packed Lugogo MTN ArenaConsequently, their perfect start ballooned to 10 games whereas UCU’s ended at nine thanks to Afidra’s game-high 29 points, 16 rebounds and three steal.
In terms of numbers, this was his best game since Game Seven of the 2011 finals. Back then, Power beat Warriors 99-97 to clinch an enthralling series 4-3 on the back of Afidra’s 29 points and 15 rebounds.
“We learnt a lot from last season,” Afidra told Sunday Monitor, opting not to take the personal glory as they got a slice of revenge for the 2-1 quarterfinal loss to UCU last year.
“The mission for everyone is to get back to our best.” Norman Blick scored 14 points and reserve point guard Emmanuel Enabu added 13, six rebounds and four assists.

Somehow, two-time MVP Ben Komakech continues to have his customary quiet regular season before exploding in the play-offs. For now, Power would care less now. Everyone is putting in a good shift. They still aren’t the ‘machine’ and struggled in the second quarter. UCU outscored the five-time champions 13-7 in that period but didn’t do much more on a poor night for guard Sudi Ulanga. “One of our scorers was struggling and that didn’t help,” UCU coach Nicholas Natuhereza. Ulanga made only nine attempts from the field, sinking a lone three.

For most of the game, Cyrus Kiviri held them afloat, scoring a team-high 21 points and nine rebounds. He even knows why they lost. “I don’t care if Afidra makes eight three-pointers because it came down to the two threes of Emmanuel and Magaiva (Paul Odong) made when we got close,” Kiviri said.
Indeed it did as those two maintained Power’s five-point lead in the final four minutes.
Desmond Owili, the catalyst of the series win over Power last year, added 16 and Martin Okwako 15 and seven rebounds as UCU made half-hearted drives to snatch the game.
Ulanga cut a forlon figure. Owili was frustrated by some good defence from Blick and both players had to be restrained before the former made an early exit from the game.
 Like Kiviri said before the game that win or lose, UCU will remain a contender, Natuhereza remained positive. “Who cares about the unbeaten run?” Natuhereza asked. “It was not written anywhere that we will go through the season unbeaten but it’s important to know why we lost tonight.”                         
An answer to the young coach is that: Power, who didn’t even need to play their transition game, settling for shots, were slightly better. If they beat Warriors next Friday, they finish the 11 first round games with a perfect record and on course for the number one spot at the end of the regular season

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