The Airtel National Basketball League play-offs are living up to the billing. From a triple overtime to a last-second buzzer-beating three-pointer, this weekend promises more thrilling games, writes Felix Eupal.
Walker Obedi has endured his worst season as head coach of the Ndejje Angels and this evening, that suffering is set to continue if his team doesn’t defeat Stanbic Warriors at the YMCA grounds.
Ndejje registered 13 wins and nine losses in the regular season and trail the two-time champins 0-1 in the best-of-three quarterfinal. In game one, Ndejje started all guns blazing and led in each of the first three quarters before they self-destructed and gave away the game. They don’t seem to believe that they can get past this level, let alone beat this Warriors side.
In fact, twice in the three encounters between the two sides this season, Ndejje has always taken the lead and then given away the game in the last quarter. The only time they kept their composure was the first round fixture, when they didn’t let Warriors a sniff. Indeed, the Angels walked away with the win.
Despite such lapses in concentration and poor execution, mostly from the back court, Obedi is confident his charges will force game three.
“This is not the end of our season. We are willing to die on that court for that win.” His sentiments clearly portray how desperate the Angels are to get to the semifinals for the first time in their history. Obedi adds: “We have a new strategy for the final four minutes of the last quarter because that is where we have been losing it.”
If Obedi gets his tactics right, game three will be played on Sunday but anything short, then Warriors will be facing Tiger Head Power in the semis.
Owili boost for Canons:
Kenyan centre Desmond Owili will be the centre of attention when UCU Canons take on Krishna Falcons in a winner-takes-all game three this Sunday.
Owili has sat out the entire season serving a ban from local basketball body (Fuba) for his physical altercation on umpire Peter Kirabo last year. Ironically, it was at the same stage and the Canons ended up losing 76-82 to Falcons, who went on to make it to the finals.
“I have missed the game and when I was following game two and learnt we were down by 16 points, I thought I was not going to play for Canons this season,” Owili told The Observer on Thursday afternoon.
He also revealed how the ban has transformed him: “I have improved a lot during this period trying to learn from Kami Kabenge and Henry Malinga. Now, my shooting and game composure are better.”
Owili will definitely come in handy in the Canons paint as Ivan Lumanyika will have to help on the boards but it remains to be seen how he will fit into the team. “Basketball doesn’t change it is the players that do. I have grown with the team, whether I fit in or not, that I will leave to you to decide on Sunday,” he said.
So, do Canons have a predator instinct to finish off a Falcons team full of experienced players?
Canons coach Nick Natureheza has a formidable game-plan. “We can’t afford to come from behind for three games we will be in control of the game from the start.”
Source : The Observer