07 December 2014

UGANDA : Power left on the edge

By Ismail Dhakaba KigongoKAMPALA.
City Oilers have not yet needed to be good. All it’s taken them so far is to be better than Tiger Head Power in the National Basketball League seven-game final series.
But, if good is enough, coach Mandy Juruni won’t mind it. Daniel ‘Najja’ Juuko jumped off the bench to lift the champions to a 79-66 victory at the Lugogo MTN Arena on Friday night for a 2-0 series lead. The point guard scored 11 of his 13 points in the penultimate period. Power led 39-34 after two periods only for Oilers to run away 45-27 thereafter.
Najja was the instigator in the absence of the 24-second clock. “Everyone is just ready to play when the chance arises,” Juuko said. Juruni restored his starting five after resting them in Wednesday’s Game One.
That series’ opening victory, a seventh successive against Power, came less than 48 hours after completion of their draining 3-2 semifinal series win over UCU Canons. Of the starters, only Kami Kabange was fairly consistent with a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds while Geoff Omondi nailed some big shots in a slow start.
10-point lead
Oilers committed nine of their 18 tunrovers in the first period as Ben Komakech, Jimmy Enabu and Kabange (5) seemed to show signs of fatigue.
Whenever Power threatened to run away having assumed a 10-point lead in the third, Omondi’s 2 for 3 behind the arc kept them in sight. He finished on 15 and 10 rebounds as he seeks a first title.
Power, for whom Abdullahi Ramadhan scored a game-high 22 points, five rebounds and six assists, must now win four out of five games to reclaim the title they last won in 2011.
Is it possible? “From our position now, it’s very hard but it’s still here,” coach Bernes Ankunda, visibly angry about the lethargic display, said. 2-0 was distant. Now, 3-0 looks certain.
Though Falcons came from 2-0 down to beat Warriors in the 2007 final and the latter recovered from 3-0 deficit to force a Game Seven against Power in 2011, this Power team doesn’t look to have it in them, for now. James Okello, like Najja, scored 10 and seven rebounds off the bench.
Ankunda will want something similar from his role players to avoid a ninth successive loss to Oilers at YMCA today.
Besides Dulah, starters Michael Kojo’s 15 and Paul Odongo’s 13 were the other contributors on offense as Joseph Ikong choked after a brilliant semifinal series.
Multiple champion Norman Blick was not even a footnote in what is turning out to be a nightmare and forgettable final thus far.
In the women’s final, UCU Lady Canons tied their series with KCCA Leopards in a 50-40 victory as Judith Nansobya scored 15 points with the latter going scoreless for over 12 minutes.
MEN: Power 66-79 Oilers
W: UCU 50-40 KCCA
MEN: Oilers vs. Power (7.30pm)
(Oilers lead series 2-0)
W: KCCA vs. UCU (5.30pm)
(Series tied 1-all)

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