30 July 2009

KENYA : Wobbly start for Falcons in Zone 5

Sande Bashaija

Yesterday’s results
Falcons 71-75 Marines
ABC 70-102 KPA
Coop 81-63 CSKA
Today at YMCA
Berco stars v KIU (12pm)
A-1 Challenge v Eagle (2pm)
KPA v APR (4pm)
KCB v Falcons (6pm)
DMark Power v Coop (8pm)
At Makerere
KCC v UNR (10am)
Marines v ABC 12pm)
Newstars v KPA (2pm)
JKT v Warriors (4pm)

Everything went wrong for Falcons as the Sprite Zone 5 Championship got underway at YMCA Wandegeya yesterday evening. First, the local league record champions almost got penalized for arriving late.

After several calls, they showed up only to find their opponents, Rwanda’s Marines, ready to get rolling. That was blunder number one for Uganda’s representatives in the regional tournament.

Falcons didn’t get enough time to warm up and psyche for the game but that can’t be an excuse for the 71-75 loss. True, Marines are a side with technically gifted players but for Falcons to give away a five-point lead with just less than three minutes on the clock was unforgivable.

The Rwandans got off to a dream start, winning the opening two quarters 16-13 and 21-19 respectively but Falcons’ experience was always expected to come to the fore.

After all, the Ugandans beat Marines 77-74 during a warm-up engagement in Kigali last week. But Arnold Akwira (16 points), Elibo Muhire (21) and Gedeka Kateguhaga (20), three rare talents in the Rwandan side, kept the Falcons’ defence on its toes despite the Ugandans winning the third session 22-13.

And when they found Stephen Omony, Francis Tumusime and Sam Obol not at their usual best, the Rwandans were in for a party. Falcons trailed for the bigger part but finally took the lead (54-50) going into the final quarter This gave the energetic and passionate fans every reason to shout themselves hoarse.

Then in came a moment of madness. Obol (7) unluckily missed on the break and Eric Malinga (14) hit the rim from outside the arc with Falcons leading 64-61.

Marines made no error, every move of theirs ended in a basket during crucial moments to render Henry Malinga’s team high 17 points irrelevant. Falcons now find themselves in a must-win situation going into their next game against Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) this evening.

Elsewhere, Kampala City Council (KCC) Leopards, women semifinalists last year, begin their campaign with an encounter against University of Nairobi at Makerere this morning.

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