Ahead of tomorrow's semifinal playoffs Game 3 between UCU Canons and Kyambogo Warriors, the series are tied but there are several individual scores to settle going by the acrimonious tone of Game 2, writes Felix Eupal.
It's just heating up:
Warriors' 66-55 win to level the series on Sunday night typified the newfound hunger for success in local basketball. It also brought out the ugly side of the game in form of gamesmanship; both sides pulled all stops to win. On the Warriors side, Ivan Enabu walked off limping, Jude Ochen had a swollen jaw, Norman Blick's lip was cut open while Cyrus Kiviri endured a mild concussion.
Not that the Canons went back intact: Sande Okot left with a bruised ego, Desmon Owili was punched in the crouch by Kiviri and Suudi Ulanga also had a limp. It was a match played in the most unsporting of behaviours. And although several players at the centre of the controversies have come out to apologise, resentment between the two sets is at an all-time high.
Canons coach Nick Natuhereza says: "Most people put the blame on us. But the officials also frustrated us...that's why my players reacted like that."
The animosity aside, Canons need serious soul searching if they are to overcome the experienced Warriors. Canons players have on several occasions self-destructed after losing their heads.
And this is something Natuhereza quickly wants to arrest: "We are coming out in Game 3 to focus on basketball and nothing else," he says.
It's the third straight year both teams are meeting at the semifinal stage and each time, Canons have won Game 1 before succumbing in the decisive match.
Tomorrow's fixtures at Lugogo:
Lady Canons v A1, (6:30pm)
Warriors v Canons, (8:30pm)
Saturday at Lugogo:
Leopards v Stormers, (4pm)
Falcons v KIU, (6pm)
Sunday at Lugogo:
Lady Canons v A1, (4pm)
Warriors v Canons, (6pm)