16 October 2013

UGANDA . Five Talking Points Ahead of Play-Offs

The Airtel basketball league regular season comes to an end this weekend and with most of the eight play-off slots settled; attention is on who will have the last laugh, writes Felix Eupal.
Title wide open
By the midway point of the second round, it was a two-horse race between UCU Canons and Dmark Power.
But over the last few weeks, Warriors, Falcons, KIU, City Oilers and Ndejje Angels have all caught up and possess the firepower to pull off major upsets in the play-offs.
Owino will be crucial for Warriors
Defending champions Warriors exercised their strong financial muscle by snapping up Kenyan Ronnie Owino to replace Emmanuel Ssamanya as coach. Owino is no stranger to Ugandan basketball.
Early this year, he led Tanzania's ladies to the Zone Five Club Championship. It is understood Ssamanya is leaving the country to join his wife abroad. Owino's contract runs until the end of the year but he is widely expected to stay beyond that period.
This may be Canons' year
Currently second on the table, the Canons have had a fairytale season and the seven-year wait for a championship could finally be over. Despite having arguably the most balanced team in the league, temperament is still their Achilles' heel.
Yet the university team believe the Fuba officials are always against them. It was the same scenario when they fell to Power last Friday. Canons need to improve on their game maturity if they are to get the monkey off their backs.
The referee question
The issue of the poor officiating has stuck for years. Fans, who by the way have less knowledge about the technicalities of the game, have baptized the refs as 'biased' and little qualified.
Truth is the refs have made some alarming calls but that hasn't taken away the fact that they have also done a good job and are qualified personnel. It remains to be seen how the match officials will handle pressure moments.
Falcons getting their groove back
They were a laughing stock all season until a month ago when they put their house in order. Despite being seventh on the table, no team wants to face them in the play-offs. For one, they have a healthy squad.
Their coach Gad Eteu says: "We don't care whom we meet, be it quarters, or semis." Such confidence at the right time is what has made them fierce

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