29 April 2012

UGANDA : Kampala defeat leaves bitter taste

The East and Central Africa Intercities Basketball which ended yesterday might take the honours for being one of the least attended and least publicized events in recent times. First, the organizers KCCA had promised to have the Lugogo Indoor Stadium available as the annual tournament got underway on Tuesday. Almost as expected, that failed and the eternal sanctuary at YMCA court filled the blanks.
The quality of the basketball had little to offer. The absence of strong sides from Kigali and Nairobi greatly contributed to this.
It was far from what the tournament was a decade ago when Nairobi Combined were often the favourites. However, just when the tournament was to be treated like a passing storm, Mukono threw down the gauntlet by beating Kampala 71-68.
The latter have fielded a cross-section of star players from the MTN-Fuba League.
Predictably, they steamrolled opposition from Moyo, Mogadishu, Hargerisa, Juba and Mombasa.
There was quite a gulf between Norman Blick, Ben Komakech, captain Joseph Ikong, Ivan Enabu and co. Most games were not too different from pick-up basketball.
A collision with Mukono, comprising players from UCU Canons, in the semifinals was the hardest challenge for these players who will eventually end up in the national team.For most of the first three quarters, it was a near formality as Kampala led by 10 points. Only to fall short. It was an abysmal showing late in the game against the one-man show of shooting guard Sudi Ulanga. Coaches Bernice Ankunda and Mandy Juruni were clueless. All their players only mastered the art of fouling Ulanga. He went to the line on no less than 10 occasions in the fourth quarter and never missed a shot. Each one of them was cheered loudly.
Somehow, Mukono had recovered to lead 67-65 with 25 seconds to play and Isaac Luggudde tied the game but there was no stopping Ulanga.
“We only had one session together and the main aim is to have fun,” Juruni, the assistant coach, said.
That fun involved so many wrong decisions like leaving Ronnie Kasewu on the bench when the team needed some steely defence.
Sam Gombya, a 7ft 1in centre, also got minutes when Kampala opted for a transitional game. While he has so many strengths, speed is not one of them.
Later this year, Uganda will take part in the Zone V Nations Championships and 75% of the team will have these same players.
This was a good platform to work on the blue print. Ulanga and co. left so many questions. The Injuries to Stephen Omony, Isaac Afidra and Eric Malinga plus the absence of Henry Malinga didn’t help. Like one coach said; “the team had too many guards.” The statement is not wholly a problem as guards should be a strength but Ankunda and Juruni, if appointed national coaches later this year, have work to do.

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