The Observer (Kampala)

5 December 2012

Uganda: Warriors Seek Leveller, Falcons Eye Whitewash

Ahead of tonight's Game Two of the best-of-seven playoffs finals, Kyambogo Warriors aim to tie the series but favourites Falcons are out to kill their fighting spirit, writes Felix Eupal.

Having coasted in the regular season with elegance, Falcons found themselves struggling against KIU Titans in the playoffs semifinals. In fact, it took five tough matches for the record champions to progress and in doing so; they had to return the basics that made Falcons the most feared side in Ugandan basketball.

Central to their new approach was to score points at all costs regardless whether it's eye-catching to the fans. Game One of the finals was no different; a handful of three-pointers and no crowd-favourite slam-dunks. But in the end, they left YMCA court with their heads high.

Gad Eteu, the Falcons assistant coach, is contented with the approach: "All we have to do is remain focused and knowing when to step up the defence to close a game."

On the other hand, Warriors's lack of a consistent 'sixth man' could haunt them for the remainder of the series.

They simply don't have someone who can come off the bench and change the momentum of the game like Falcons do in Steven Mwesige. On Sunday, Mwesige came off the bench and dropped nine points including the game-changing three-pointer at the end of the third quarter.

The other drawback for Warriors is that Henry Malinga cannot match up with Falcons man-mountain Philip Ameny in the centre of the paint. Malinga's tiring legs simply just can't catch up with Ameny's tenacity at both ends of the court.

Therefore, Warriors coach Mandy Juruni has to find a way of freeing up Malinga on top of praying that Steven Okias makes his presence felt when he comes off the bench.

Anything short, Falcons could go up 2-0 and that would mean Warriors kiss their title hopes goodbye.

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