11 January 2015

UGANDA : Basketball and Its 2015 Prospects

Uganda's men's and women's basketball teams' participation in the Africa Afro Basketball championship is expected to be the highlight of 2015, as Felix Eupal previews the year in the hoops...
The 2014 MVP
Before anything, the 2014 MVP award in the different divisions remains an unresolved matter. And for many in the basketball fraternity, it is a pertinent issue that stirs lots of emotions. For many observers, Falcons' guard Cyrus Kiviri is tipped for the award because of his consistency in the regular season. But UCU's Sudi Ulanga is not far-off.
City Oilers' Ben Komakech and Jimmy Enabu turned on the style during the play-offs in fighting from 2-0 down to beat UCU Canons 3-2 before humiliating Tiger-Head Power 4-0 in the finals.
On the other hand, UCU Ladies' Judith Nansobya is a shoo-in for the MVP award in regular season. Her big three-point shots kept her team alive in many games. At the play-offs, however, Claire Lamunu is likely to run away with it for the way she inspired a KCCA Leopards' fight-back when they were 1-3 down against UCU Lady Canons.
Afro-basketball Championship
Once the MVP matter is dealt with, focus is expected to shift to matters on court when the men (Silverbacks) and women (Gazelles) teams head out for the Afro-basketball championship later this year.
For many basketball fans, they will be hoping that both teams replicate the form exhibited at the Africa Zone V Championship in September 2014. Last September, the Silverbacks finished second to Egypt while the Gazelles won the tournament, staving off the challenge of both Egypt and Kenya.
The women and men's teams will be flying to Cameroon and Tunisia respectively. This will be the first time Uganda competes at this level and taking on power-houses like Nigeria, Angola and Senegal should give the Ugandan teams some great test.
Zone V Club Championship
That said, the Afro-basketball championship will come after City Oilers and KCCA Leopards, the men and women NBL champions, have had another shot at the Africa Zone V Club Championship this year.
Last year, at City Oilers' maiden international outing, they finished with bronze. Leopards will also aim to bag gold this year, the same way their player Claire Lamunu was top-scorer at the Championship last year in Mombasa, Kenya.
Lugogo Saga
Until the NBL playoffs, and maybe the exception of the Africa Zone V Championships, which Uganda hosted, Fuba was unable to host any domestic championship games in the Lugogo indoor stadium, called the MTN arena.
Fuba and a number of its well-wishers are determined to resolve this impasse that sprung up once Airtel, a telecom rival to MTN, started sponsoring the NBL in 2013.
City Oilers look to hold fort
For the opponents of City Oilers, dislodging them this year is likely to be difficult. If they land UCU Canons' Sudi Ulanga and Ndejje University's Geoffrey Soro, they should be unbeatable this year.
Another KCCA and UCU Lady Canons battle
Unlike City Oilers, KCCA Leopards, the women's 2014 champions, aren't expected to have Peace Proscovia this year. The domineering and high scoring centre is heading to the UK to play netball. They should miss her.
At the same time, they should await a backlash from UCU whom they toppled this year. UCU, the 2012 and 2013 champions, were gutted that they let slip their 3-1 lead in the play-off finals to eventually lose 4-3.

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