09 January 2008

UGANDA : Challenges Await Fuba Men League Clubs

BEFORE the 2008 basketball season starts, all men's first division FUBA teams will have, at the very least, a foggy idea of what they hope to achieve.

A few will have genuine title hopes, most will go through the motions while the rest will hope to survive relegation. Charles Mutebi peeps into their likely intuitions about 2008.

Title Contenders

Mogas Falcons - They won't mind another poor regular season as long as they qualify for the playoffs as the weakest team, enough to remind their rivals that the championship is actually won in the post season.
For much of the second round of last year's league, the 2007 national champions looked like they would miss the playoffs for the first time. Henry Malinga's long injury spell and Sam Obol's binding academic schedule looked like they had done them in.
But they qualified and what followed is history, lessons of which their rivals will not forget, especially the fact that writing off the Falcons is not a very good idea.

Kyambogo Warriors - Sport can be cruel as the Warriors might attest. After multiple attempts they reached their first finals last year, took a 2-0 in the best of five series, before losing it all.
So once again the Warriors will start 2008 with a similar brief - shed your reputation as the nearly men of Ugandan basketball.
Mustering the mental strength needed to go one better on last year will not be easy pecking though.

UCU Canons - They were unbeatable in the 2007 league, sometimes playing a game that smacked of origins from another galaxy and only lost twice when key players and coach Jason Mehl were away.
But in failing to win the championship, the Canons conceded something else - the aura of invincibility that aided much of their first year in the top flight. Their rivals will ask many more questions now that the playing field is level.

Sadolin Power - Arguably with the best pound to pound assemble of talent of any team, Power also beats all for disorganisation.
A strong love for the bottle and rumoured clicks within the team are some of the well known offenses.
But Power concluded a turbulent 2007 with unanimity on the need for a coach. The return of Isaac Afidra after four years with KIU will be another boost.
Sadolin clearly have the power, so will they use it?

Nkumba Marines - They will do well to play all their league games. The Marines will not easily forget the walkover that came to define their past season.
Still defending champions, the Marines would not have guessed that their season ended with failure to play against the MUK Heaters. They missed the playoffs by one point thanks to the consequent walkover penalty that denied them a maximum of four points and a minimum of two.
Still, the Marines can be unstoppable whenever they so wish.


KIU Men - After four years of depending on him, Afidra is gone. This year could see a considerable decline if Afidra's leadership is not assumed.
But this fear may prompt a little more from everyone, making the team a lot better instead. Besides, Afidra was always accused of being single minded.
KIU could become capable of the odd shock but perhaps not well equipped to foster a title run.

Miracle - Their guards have talent to burn but they are powerless to transform their perennial mid-table status. The team needs skilled big men or little will change.

Charging Rhino - The worry is that, after the frantic end to last season, targeting survival will not be small mindedness even for the 1997 champions.

Relegation Favourites

Crane High - Nothing can prepare the reigning division two champions for the baptism of fire that awaits them in their first ever season among the big boys.
Short of an extreme squad makeover, relegation is inevitable for this mainly high school team.

KCC Lions - Their fate can only be similar to that of their conquerors in last year's division two finals.

The difference is they offer financial allowances, unlike the majority of other clubs, which might be enough to lure key additions to their clearly weak squad.

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