There is no team more desperate to win basketball league crown than the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Canons.
The two-time runners-up have been part and parcel of several memorable encounters since 2007 but, unfortunately, Canons have always come off second-best. Friday night provided the perfect opportunity to signal intent of lifting the 2014 title against Krishna Falcons, a team that has inflicted the biggest damage to their hopes.
In the end, Canons contrived to lose a game that had all the bearings of a Falcons loss. The 67-63 final score in favour of Falcons at YMCA grounds means they lead the best-of-three series 1-0.
Here is why Canons bottled it despite a solid run at the start of the season, Falcons had lost five of their last six regular season fixtures and were a team out-of-sorts. However, Falcons have always reserved their best for the play-offs. Despite being seeded a lowly seventh last season, they defeated Canons at the quarterfinal stage en-route to the finals.
For starters, Canons arrived late for the fixture due to bad traffic. They didn’t get time to warm up and as such, headed into the game cold, something that gave Falcons an early lead. In fact, Canons only woke up in the last quarter when it was rather too late to recover an 18-point deficit.
In spite of the victory, Falcons’ complacency was there for all to see. For one, star man Stephen Omony had an off-day scoring a meagre four points but it was the unheralded Peter Elungat who stole the show with a game-high 21 points for the six-time champions.
Ahead of Wednesday’s game 2, Canons coach Nick Natuhereza remains hopeful: “The good thing is that we are still alive [in the series] and we still have all that it takes to stop this Falcon side”.
Being alive may be one thing but Canons are vulnerable in the paint, cannot clear the boards and more worryingly, cannot move the ball on offence. So, Natuhereza has his work cut out in order for his team’s dreams of a maiden title to remain alive.
Source : The Observer