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[August 01, 2014]
Oilers in Control After First Round
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The national basketball league first round came to an end last week and what a drama series it was, with the thrills, stuns and shocks! Ahead of the second round kick-off on August 8, Felix Eupal looks at the main talking points. Lugogo arena saga The league kick-off was delayed due to the unavailability of Lugogo arena, the traditional home of basketball. The venue authorities hiked the fees for league games from Shs Shs 500,000 to Shs 800,000.
The standoff was brought about because telecommunications giant MTN holds the venue's branding rights whereas the league is sponsored by rivals Airtel. To this day, Fuba has not hosted any league game at the venue save for the national teams because the national team steering committee could afford the fee. The wait for sanity to be restored lingers on.
The Airtel Question: Fuba launched the league without any partner on board; Airtel and NBS TV had still not committed their support this season. Fuba publicist Ali Balunywa noted that there would be a press launch in the near future for the partners. However, that is yet to materialise. Balunywa insists there are partners coming on board soon, despite the absence of any formal indicator.
Power's supremacy statement: Five-time champions Power are desperate for a sixth championship and they made quite a statement when they unveiled battery makers Tiger Head as their new sponsors as well a quintet of players; Abdullahi Ramathan, Phillip Amenyi, Ivan Enabu, Francis Odom and Moses Olobo.
They even added a bit of comic relief by hiring the services of security officer Dixon Okello to handle the team's disciplinary woes. However, they have been hit by a number of shortcomings, top among which are player egotism and inconsistency.
For a team tipped to go all the way, Power lost to City Oilers, Vegetarians, Charging Rhino and Warriors.
Oilers on course for another championship: City Oilers have lived up to the billing of a defending champion. Their style of play, particularly when closing out games, has won respect from the opposition. They have only lost once; the opening fixture to UCU Canons. They also have the best rotation offence in the league and the bench depth makes them a paradox to crack.
Falcons and the Krishna deal: Record champions Falcons started the season by ushering Friday Kagoro as the new club patron. Then, they unveiled a new sponsor in matchbox maker Krishna. The deal was reported to be worth Shs 200m-a-year, yet at the unveiling, no one from Krishna appeared and no questions about the deal were entertained.
That said, Falcons have looked strong with point guard Cyrus Kiviri running riot. They look poised for a third straight play-off finals appearance. Player U-turns The pre-season was filled with cat-fights between clubs over players' signatures, but the biggest of them was that of Ivan Enabu and Sande Okot. Enabu signed for Power while Okot for Falcons but their parent clubs; Warriors and Canons respectively, hadn't consented. Both Enabu and Okot terminated their contracts and made U-turns.
Ndejje Angel's demise: The university side started on a rosy note by winning the Zuku basketball league. However, when the league started, they became a shadow of their former self. For a team that has made the play-offs for two straight seasons, losing six games doesn't look like they want to make the post-season again. The shocks Every season has a number of shocks and this season, it has been the underdogs pressing the alarm buttons. Vegetarians produced the first upset against Power; Charging Rhino did the same to the five-time champions. Even debutants Diamonds in the Sun and Sharing Youth gave Canons and Ndejje Angels a wake-up call.
Copyright The Observer. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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