14 October 2013

UGANDA : Tough Ties On the Cards in Play-Offs

If the Dmark Power-UCU Canons clash is anything to go by, brace yourselves for several on-the-edge-of-your-seats ties in the post-season, writes John Vianney Nsimbe.
At some stage during the Power and UCU basketball league game on Friday, the former looked like they were running away with it. But the late surge by UCU created a feeling that this game would go into over-time.
But time ran out with Power holding out a 71-70 lead over UCU while UCU's point-guard, Cyrus Kiviri, was in possession trying to evade the trap manned by Power's defence in which he found himself; immobile and unable to escape and aim for the basket.
However, looking at the way the different sets of fans went through the oscillation of emotions that the game created at varying times, appeared to project a pulsating play-off season lying in wait. And maybe in prospect, whichever team has the more 'undying desire' to win the Cup ultimately, will triumph.
How much UCU wanted to beat Power was the question put forward to their pragmatic coach, Nick Natuhereza. And in the affirmative he answered, "Very badly especially because they beat us in the first round". But he hastily added that it wasn't for the sake of revenging but to build a winning run into the play-offs.
By Natuhereza's admission, he thinks his players did well although some of the plays weren't executed well like the outside shooting. And even when they were on a quick break, so many turn-overs were committed even when scoring seemed pretty easy. It is actually from some errors, like missing easy lay-ups that championships are lost.
Barnes Ankunda, Power's coach knows too well about that. Last year, after losing to UCU in the play-off quarter-finals, he told The Observer when he was asked to describe the feeling of losing the title they had won in 2011 and his response was stern. "We need to feel this pain because we made so many mistakes. But it is that pain that will drive us on to reclaim the title in 2013."
Indeed, Power looks destined for that. Even without Norman Blick and Isaac Lugudde and with their star-man Isaac Afidra only managing six points, they nicked it. They exhibited defensive discipline, which looks a tactical transformation, they haven't largely been known for hitherto.
For example, who can remember the last time their centre David Kiberu ever scored a game high 25 points? He did this with some aplomb of incredible jump shots embedded with an approach of self-esteem and not timidness that so much defines Kiberu in recent years.
His coming wedding in December appears to have brought out the real man in him; one that contributes and just doesn't ride on the back of others. He said: "The coach has allowed me the freedom to play the way I want to without restriction. Now I can even come outside and shoot".
While the momentum seems to be with Power, UCU and Falcons look hungry too. The same, however, can't be said of Warriors, the 2012 champions that recently lost to Falcons. In fact, they look like they are facing a hangover from last season's success.
But their point-guard Ivan Enabu said: "We are up for the fight and we want it too, so badly". Well, that will be seen in whoever triumphs.

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