As the season tipped off last night, SCORE’s Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo offers a glimpse into what the competition have done and hope to do to dethrone City Oilers, soon.
Landry oils champions
To som, Burundian Landry Ndikumana is one of the best inside players in this region. He has back-to-back Zone Club Championships Most Valuable Player (MVP) to show for it.
Having signed him from Urunani, two-time defending champions Oilers know the scoring burden on Kami Kabange will be reduced.
Jimmy Enabu is now MVP here and Ben Komakech will return from surgery in July to remind everyone that Oilers will remain the team to beat.
Coach Mandy Juruni will know that everyone is out to get them in a year when Oilers will be genuine contenders for the Zone V Club Championship in Rwanda come October.
The best way to turn Tiger Head Power round is to let last year’s 4-0 finals loss hurt and act as motivation. Norman Blick (KIU Titans) and Isaac Afidra were pushed over the cliff.
Three-point shooter Sudi Ulanga (UCU), Fahmy Ssebatindira (Charging Rhino) and Michael Makiadi (KIU) have been added. Robert Mugabe, the ex-UCU Canons coachlayer, takes over as head coach with Bernes Ankunda being relegated to an assistant.
Guards Richard Balemwa and Ken Balyejusa, part of the Power team that won the last of their five titles in 2011, rejoined.
How will Joseph Ikong, Paul ‘McGyver’ Odong, Philip Ameny and Abdullahi Ramadhan take to the new blokes? With their transition demystified, are Power willing to change?
This could the toughest season in years for two-time champions Stanbic Warriors as there haven’t been any significant additions to their thin roster of last year. Ronnie Kasewu, Mark Opio, Jude Ochen, Steven Okias and Ivan Enabu, who looked a few kilos heavy at the UCU Open a fortnight ago, will carry the heavy cross.
After losing Ulanga (Power) and Desmond Owili (rumoured to be in Australia), the wheels were supposed to come off quickly for UCU.
Obituary writers were made to wait as Jonathan Egau, Ivan Rumayika and Brian Namake led them to the UCU Open title, beating KIU in the final.
They remain thin and with many new and unproven faces as the inevitable turnover at university teams bites. Making the final four again will be tough for Coach Nicholas Natuhereza.
When KIU Titans beat Oilers 67-61 last month to lift the inaugural KIU Open, the statement of intent was loud. The celebration was even more telling.
It meant so much for the mammoth crowd. Now, newly signed coach Hamza Nyambogo must put together a team that can deliver that feeling in December.
Guard Chris Omanye will now have offensive support from marquee signings Blick (Power) and Geoffrey Soro (Ndejje University Angels). It’s offense they lacked the most.
Losing finalists in the 2012 and 2013, Falcons still await their record seventh title which doesn’t appear to be on the horizon having last won eight years ago.
Despite Stephen Omony staying, losing Steven ‘Duxx’ Mwesigye and Syrus Kiviri to newcomers Our Saviour could hit them hard. Finances have been the major problem.
The experience of Omony, Peter Elungat and Serge Kabangu, if he gets fit, makes them formidable in a series but perhaps not the consistency to dominate the regular season.
In their eternally clandestine approach, Kenyans Ariel Okall, a centre and point guard Joseph Shiva Ouma, are reportedly joining from Kenya Ports Authority.
Reports also suggest Martin Kitongo, also Kenyan, and Mike Buzangu (Espoir, Rwanda) are in transit. Surely, this is a quick fix.
Ndejje will lead the band of teams that will sneak into the top eight positions led by guard Jonah Otim and bubbly coach Walker Obedi.
Sharing Youth chalked up eighth place last year and will feel confident of staying above the relegation dogfight having maintained their team.
Newcomers and relegation
Bush Court and Our Saviour, who acquired UCU JV got promoted and their immediate challenge is staying. The latter seem equipped for that task, even chasing a top eight finish.
That will leave Diamond in the Sun and Charging Rhino, formerly coached by Nyambogo, fighting for their lives again.
Still KCCA vs UCU
Former MVP Maureen Amoding, torn between A1 Challenge and KCCA Leopards after leaving UCU Lady Canons, might change the equation in the women’s division entirely.
If Amoding joins A1, they will fancy their chances of breaking up this eternal duopoly even if that is easier said than done
Purity Odhiambo has to shoulder the responsibility for UCU against the depth of reigning playoffs MVP Claire Lamunu and Flavia Oketcho.
Guard Evelyn Adhiambo should be fit-again to help UCU stay ahead of Magic Stormers and KIU Rangers.
Do they have enough in the tank to push Timothy Odeke’s KCCA who came from 3-1 down to win last year’s finals 4-3? Huge doubts!
SOURCE: Daily Monitor