The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Top 10 - Game Changers in the Fuba League Playoffs

The 2012 Airtel Fuba League semis are ongoing but there are special players made for this special occasion.

Felix Eupal lists the most domineering stars across the eight remaining teams in both the men's and ladies topflight.

1. Suudi Ulanga: UCU Canons

The Canons emergence as one of the top contenders for this title is no mistake. They ousted defending champions Dmark Power 2-1 at the quarterfinals and won game one of the semis against favourites Kyambogo Warriors. All this can be largely attributed to point guard Ulanga, whose game has perplexed many an opponent. He shoots from deep with confidence and drives to the hoop with so much ease it has made this squad more than a threat for the title.

2. Jeff Omondi: Falcons

He's not the sort of player who creates his own offense, and his jumper technique needs some honing. But, he has an all-rounder that punishes opponents at will. He's a rock on the defensive end and going forward, he offers a much-needed competitive streak. Omondi has also greatly matured; he commands and knows what to do and when to do it.

3. Purity Odhiambo: Lady Canons

She was the first non-Ugandan to win the Ladies MVP accolade last and she has gone from strength to strength. She is the master when it comes to posting and often draws opponents to her before making a fool of them. She has eased the work off Loraine Akinyi, and she is the reason why the Canons are in a league of their own this season.

4. Desmon Owili: UCU Canons

If there is a player who has made the Canons believe that their seven-year wait for a championship could be over, it is the towering 6'7 centre. He has controlled the boards but most importantly, He has kept the moody temperament in check. Owili is yet to foul out in the playoffs but most importantly, he continues to be a threat on all fronts.

5. Cyrus Kiviri: Warriors

Right from the time when they got him from Ndejje Angels last year, Kiviri was a marvel and he has been remarkably hard on every possession. He's the best at controlling a tense situation and his good ball handling skills have greatly eased the pressure on star shooting guard Ronnie Kasewu.

However, his glue-guy skills may not be enough for Warriors if coach Mandy Juruni continues with his policy of player rotations.

6. Hatima Kasimu: A1 Challenge

The prodigal girl returned to A1 just when they needed her. After a season-long layoff due to family reasons, she just couldn't watch her team go down like that. And don't let the Muslim veil she wears during games fool you. She has a deep range on her jumper, loves to get out and run on the break, has a high character, extremely physical, defence-minded and smart. She is the reason why A1 Challenge are still challenging.

7. Michael Makiadi: KIU Titans

He is the complete power forward; has the size, athleticism and that shooting stroke that teams everyone craves for. The one red flag is his offense is crappy. That said, it's because his heavy-handed approach that the Titans can best be described as solid. He's a good fit for the Titans who rely a lot on the out-of-the-ark game he certainly has got paint dominance.

8. Martha Soigi: KCCA Leopards

If you follow press reports, you are likely to believe Flavia Oketcho is the top dog at KCCA Leopards. But, Soigi is the reason Oketcho looks good. Picking those balls, looking for the outlet and the free person.

Forget the fact that she a late developer; her passing mentality and high basketball IQ have made coach Timothy Odeke's work a lot much easier. To beat the Magic Stormers, she will be the arrow that cracks the rock.

9. Salim Ali: KIU Titans

They say that the strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf but the strength of the Titans is Ali. He is their brains and heart that roars this team on.

He makes everything go round. When the going gets tough he is the one they want to have the ball and if the Titans are to make their first finals appearance, he will have to more than show up.

10. Carol Nyafodo: Magic Stormers

The Stormers swept aside KIU Rangers in the quarters this year and are looking at making the finals for first time since they joined the league in 2010. But all their character and charisma depends on Nyafondo's never tire engine. Nyafodo's upgrade from small forward to centre has been a dream come true for the petite team.

Averaging 12 rebounds and 10. 2 points in the playoffs, she is the go-to girl and will be tasked with covering that brutal perimeter defence.

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