The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Basketball to Continue Progress Path in 2013

Basketball was blessed not to have had any major off-court distractions last year and 2013 shouldn't be any different, John Vianney Nsimbe.

The leagues, right from the first to third division, ended strongly and that should be the way they begin. Contrary to previous beliefs, men's basketball in the second and third divisions has climbed up a big notch. It's becoming so competitive and interesting that more fans will follow trends down there.

With youngsters like Tony Mayambala of Makindye Shooters among the top prospects, the game always thrives when a host of efficient talent is churned out. Look at how Emmanuel Enabu, fresh from high school and straight into the Dmark Power side in 2010, simply awed the fans with a title-winning debut season playing with grace, solidity and panache.

Last year, players like Brian Namake and Innocent Odour of UCU Canons were a point of discussion for the quality they added into UCU. With that fact, UCU Canons should be unplayable this year although Power should come back strong while Falcons, five years without a league trophy, will be so motivated to win. However, the more the men's game has grown, the less powerful the women's game has turned out to be.

The gulf in quality between UCU Ladies and KCC Leopards compared to the rest of the pack is quite big and it's disconcerting. Fuba is trying to come up with measures to see to it that the women's game returns to its competitive heights it once was back in 2008 and the years before. With Lady-Bucks not barking, A1-Challenge not challenging, KIU Rangers soft as silk and MUK Sparks not sparkling, the future of the women's game is bleak and fans watching will continue to decrease.

More quality players will be needed across the board like Frances Nabulobi, Judith Akoth (Lulu), Becky Akello and Olivia Mulwana once were at the peak of their powers. In addition, the game is expected to benefit from the development of more coaches and referees. Last season, referees struck for delayed and poor payment and Fuba will have to address that problem.

Such situations must be settled fast to avoid putting off new teams that want to enrol in the league because of the attraction that basketball offers due to its meteoric rise. But at the dawn of 2013, the focus will be on both the men and women's national teams that will be competing in the Africa Zone Five championships in Tanzania this month.

Uganda's teams have come short at this level and hopefully with the experience acquired over the last three campaigns, the men's title-winning feat in the 2005 regional championship can be replicated.

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