04 December 2015

UGANDA : City Oilers vs. UCU Canons finals preview

UCU Canons' Brian Namake goes past City Oilers' guards Jimmy Enabu (L) and Ben Komakech  Photo Credits: Daily Monitor UCU Canons' Brian Namake goes past City Oilers' guards Jimmy Enabu (L) and Ben Komakech
City Oilers vs. UCU Canons 8:00pm, Lugogo
On five occasions they had been knocking and the door banged at them. Even when it seemed like they had a foot in, they were not as strong to make the final push.
Finally, they have crushed the door and the UCU Canons are in the National Basketball League Playoffs finals for the first time.
The buzz among the players, coaches, faithfuls and neutrals alike was visible from Wednesday night when they ejected KIU Titans in a blow out.
However, there's no time to celebrate making the maiden finals as the seven game playoffs finals start tonight at Lugogo.
UCU's coach, Nick Natuhereza knows the finals appearance is not enough and they are going for it but admits it's a tough challenge they are up against.
Ofcourse it's going to be tough because we are playing against the two time defending champions but we are ready for the challenge
With no time to recover from the five game stretch with KIU most of it their making, Natuhereza hopes that doesn't affect his charges going into Game 1.
"You can't rule it (fatigue) out but I hope it doesn't affect us"
How will UCU turn out?
The Canons are probably the best transition team in the league. The university side enjoys scoring on transition using the athleticism of the youthful players from the guards to bigs.
In the two blowout victories over KIU, the Kansanga based team's transition defense was bleeding with their inability to balance the court and keep up with the pace of UCU.
The speed with which UCU turn their defense into offense will give City Oilers trouble especially if it's the guards who will break away.
With the presence of bigs Desmond Owili, Ivan Lumanyika and the young Fadhili Chuma off the bench, UCU have an option of going down to pound Kami Kabange, Landry Ndikumana and Samuel Kalwanyi.
In the young guard, Steven Wundi, Canons have someone who can cook from deep. Wundi I'd an effective player in the half court and if Lumanyika, Owili and Chuma can set the 'catch and shoot' guard a couple of screens, he will be a silent weapon. Point guard, Innocent Odur could also get Canons points from down town.
"We will try and get him (Wundi) a couple of shots" Natuhereza said.
In Jonathan Egau, UCU have got an effective secondary scorer. The guard-forward's ability to drive to the hoop and an occasional 3-point shot may go along way in helping Canons.
"He has improved a lot since he got here and gets better every year. He gives us something different every year." Natuhereza said of Egau.
Outside of Ndejje's Walker Obedi, no coach in the league plays zone defense as much as Nick Natuhereza.
In fact Natuhereza will prefer his zone defense against City Oilers who in Kabange and Ndikumana have the smartest bigs in the league.
Natuhereza will set up his zone to keep Oilers' bigs away from the basket. However, if Ben Komakech, Jeff Omondi and Jimmy Enabu connect from the 3-point line, the Canons may be forced out of the zone.
How UCU switch defenses will be key in limiting arguably the best team in the league coached by the best coach in the country.
"It will come down to how we play on defense. If we play good defense, we will give ourselves a chance" Natuhereza told Kawowo Sports.
How will Oilers turn out?
City Oilers probably have the most offensive options of the two sides. The back-to-back champions can score on transition, go down to their bigs or have Komakech and Omondi score from 3-point range and occasionally from Enabu and Daniel Jjuko.
Kami Kabange, the Oilers' first offensive option may find it tough to work from his office against UCU whose interior defense is quite solid.
However, key to Oilers offense is the passing ability and patience of the team that gets players open for shots and easy looks at the basket.
Without doubt even if UCU lock the interior, Oilers will find a way of unlocking it. In Landry Ndikumana, Oilers have a big who can do a little bit of everything with the ball and comfortable inside out. The Burundian may draw Lumanyika or Chuma outside and with the occasional 3-pointer that he practices every night under the dim lights of the KIU court, Ndikumana could be a real thorn in UCU's flesh.
Jimmy Enabu gives Oilers the pace with his quick feet and long hands. The MVP's drives to the basket may unsettle UCU's defense and earn him a few trips to the line.
The maturity and experience of Ben Komaketch and Jeff Omondi may give the defending champions an edge on the back court offensively.
Any coach would naturally direct their defensive strategy at limiting Lumanyika and Owili as well as their provider Innocent Odur. Kami Kabange, Ndikumana and Samuel Kalwanyi will have to stand some pounding at the post if Owili and Lumanyika get into their groove.
Oilers' court balance on offense will be key to making defensive stops on UCU's transition.

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