The Observer (Kampala)

19 December 2012

Uganda: Basketball Calendar Drawing to a Close

The 2012 local basketball calendar draws to a close this evening at Lugogo Arena, with a winner-takes-all Game 7 between UCU Lady Canons and KCCA Leopards, writes Elly Kyeyune.

Kyambogo Warriors won the men's title last Sunday after defeating Blue Cube Falcons 4-2 in the best-of-seven series last Sunday and now attention turns to the ladies category. Lady Canons and Leopards are tied on 3-3. The Lady Canons start as favourites to win a fourth straight title but Leopards' resilience could land them a first title since 2009.

It was never in doubt that Canons would ease into the Playoffs Finals and when they took a 2-0 series lead, it seemed as though there was no way back for Leopards. However, overconfidence bred complacency and allowed Leopards back into the series to the extent of taking a shock 3-2 lead.

That's when Boniface Okello's charges woke up to win Game 6 in emphatic fashion 69-48 on Sunday to take the series into a do-or-die battle. It now boils down to Leopards' experience against Lady Canons' agility. In Flavia Okecho and Martha Soigi, Leopards possess firepower that will punish every mistake from the Lady Canons but Leopards' lack of all-round team effort could cost them dearly at the tail end of the match. Meanwhile, the Lady Canons have no such worries apart from nervousness. If they find their rythm and lead from the onset, it's hard to see Leopards catching up.

No room for error

Okello insists Canons are destined for success: "All players are settled and there is no thought of losing," he says. "All we are thinking about is walking away with the trophy."

To achieve the feat, Lady Canons will most likely be without their most influential player Purity Odhiambo, who has missed the last two matches grieving after the death of her mother.

"We miss Purity but we have learnt to play without her," adds Okello, who plans to stay on as coach even if Leopards take the title.

Close call in race for MVP

Tonight's events will be crowned with an awards ceremony for the season's outstanding players but it's hard to single out the Most Valuable Player in both the men and ladies categories. It's also quite confusing given that local basketball body gives out two MVP awards: one for regular season and the other for the playoffs.

Ordinarily, the regular season honour is supposed to count more but players and fans alike recognize the Playoffs MVP award. It's also become a norm for Fuba to give the award to a player from a championship-winning team. Based on this, Warriors' trio of Norman Blick, Ivan Enabu and Cyrus Kiviri are frontrunners but they have not been consistent. That's why Falcons pair of Phillip Ameny and in particular Steven Omony shouldn't be counted out. All this makes for an unpredictable night.

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