Game 1 – Sunday, November 3 at 7:30pm
Game 2 – Wednesday, November 6 at 5:30pm
Game 3 – Sunday, November 10 at 7:30pm (If necessary)
This isn’t a particularly even series in terms of the teams’ profiles, but it promises to (and should) bring a combination of high-level play, calculated coaching and striking individual performance. While Falcons are the most successful club in local basketball, UCU Canons have never made a trip to the finals.
While the team profiles don’t match, there is not much difference (if any) in manpower. Actually of the four playoff match ups, this should be the most interesting and from a basketball geek point of view a match up that should be on a seven game spread but the rules will let us have only three games at most.
UCU Canons put the second best defensive numbers on points allowed in the league and Falcons on the side of the ball put in the third worst only better than Rhinos and Power of the teams at the playoffs but the match up doesn’t look (on the outside) like one that will depend on defense as both teams execute.
UCU’s faith should be strong having gone past the first round of the playoffs for first time last year beating Power and put up exceptional performances in losing efforts against Warriors (like they had always done). More immediately, Canons saw off Falcons in both encounters of the regular season including 101-91 win – the most offensively open game of the season.
The two biggest variables in these series however may be the return of Steven Omony to the Falcons’ team and how Jeff Omondi’s defensive game will affect Canons scoring machine – Sudi Ulanga. Omony pitched game high 27 points in the first round loss and watched from the bench as his team went down 75-68 but Ulanga limited to 15 points after the 26 points first round explosion.
Why Canons will win:
Should the Falcons play Sudi Ulanga aggressively in order to prevent him from getting to the rim or taking off his 3-point shot, they risk a pass to the open man. Should they hedge harder against Desmond Owili in his 1-2, they may concede an easy mid-range jumper from Syrus Kiviiri or Joseph Chuma. Every slide or rotation comes at a clear cost, as Canons look good at exploiting even the briefest of windows with a perfect pass to an efficiently positioned scorer.
Why Falcons may win:
Falcons’ offense may be derived from nightly experimentation (because of individual brilliance rather than team play) and the defense a bit more fallible than usual like it was against some of their matches in the regular season, but Falcons’ energy creates a means for victory that can be difficult to predict or to fully explain. They shouldn’t win this series, and likely won’t yet the Falcons will compete on every possession, and will at the very least force the Canons to execute and adjust to a point that may make the university outfit uncomfortable. That in itself will not lead to a series victory, but it may set in motion the rather precise criteria that the Falcons may need to get an edge.
Prediction: UCU Canons in 3. Like one of my friends said, anything less than the final is loss for UCU and they should be able to get there. Having won all first games of series they have played, you can almost be sure Canons will win game 1 of these series.