The Observer (Kampala)

18 November 2012

Uganda: Five Things We've Learnt From Hoops Playoffs So Far

With the 2012 Airtel Fuba League playoffs approaching the climax, Felix Eupal looks at the major talking points so far.

Unsung hero Brian Namake:

Every series has an X-factor; the player who always comes to the team's rescue when everything is down. No player has done that better than UCU Canons' Namake. He can shoot, handle the ball and post in the paint.

When Suudi Ulanga is down he steps up and just when Desmon Owili gets trouble posting, Namake has risen to the occasion post. The only undoing is that his rebound still needs polishing.

Suudi Ulanga is playoff MVP-elect:

The championship is far from decided but Ulanga is the runaway favourite to be the Most Valuable Player. He is a born champion and has already demonstrated he was all credentials to be MVP.

He carries UCU Canons on his shoulders and combined with his newfound composure in the dying minutes, Ulanga has many times singlehandedly destroyed the opponents when it matters most.

Officials will play a big part in determining the champ

With each passing season, fans' complaints about poor officiating have risen. Many still believe that Dmark Power wouldn't have won the title had not been for Ramathan Mpuuga's contentious call against Ronnie Kasewu on Ben Komaketch with seconds to go.

It hasn't improved this year. Edward Sendikadiwa let Game 2 of Warriors-UCU Canons semi turn into a wrestling match and we have seen a number of wrong calls decide eventual match winners. Whichever will win championship, they will have to partly thank the match officials.

Power absence leaves void:

Many sighed relief when Power exited the playoffs early on after three straight finals appearances against Warriors. The rivalry had become somehow boring and predictable.

However, the ongoing playoffs semis lack the 'Power spark;' that crowd intensity and those on-the-edge moments when Power is chasing a game.

Falcons and KIU Titans have so far been dull and despite the animosity between Warriors and Canons players, they have failed to produce the jaw-dropping moments of sheer brilliance Ben Komakech and Isaac Afidra often made.

This could be a Canons year:

The Lady Canons are gunning for a third straight title after thrashing A1 Challenge 3-0 in the semis. What's left is for their male side to finish off the 'double' and win the men's championship.

After seven years in the topflight, the Canons are due for a title. The laid down a marker in Game 3 when all they did was focus on basketball. It didn't matter whether the referee made a controversial call or Warriors players provoked them, it was all about basketball.

Their fans have hurt enough and this year, Canons have the depth to believe that pain is over.

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