In the Biblical setting, David’s victory over Goliath is considered to be an anomaly. May be it was. But Davids win all the time – when they acknowledge their weakness and choose unconventional strategies. Two of the four airtel National Basketball League games played on Sunday were testament.
As I watched a handful of fans (most players) on the stands of YMCA celebrate every basket KIU Rangers scored against KCCA Leopards on Sunday, I felt no anger towards everyone else’s joy – at some point I got to my feet as well. They got to experience the same joy that I long to experience each time I watch a top team (that isn’t Warriors) playing a lowly side. Gutted I couldn’t catch Vegetarian give Power a treat but we will come to that.
Like so many, I love to see the underdog win. Even a naysayer wouldn’t give KIU Rangers the slightest of chances after watching the pregame shoot around. Due to semester break, Rangers had six players and Leopards were without only Claire Lamunu (who is with the Ugandan team in 3×3 World Championships) but once the jump ball went into the air it was KIU that started with a 9-0 run and never looked back. Strong defense coupled with quick transition led by Florence Nanyonga took Leopards who were abysmal themselves by surprise.
With the exception of Sophie Nasaka who came off the bench and played the least minutes and center Doreen Namukasa, the rest of the Rangers reached double figures in points.
“We went back to basic basketball. We took away their strength and used our own – transition basketball” Nimrod Kaboha, KIU’s coach said. “They have the tallest players in the league and we had to take away the zones they pick the ball from. We took away the high percentage shots and let them take the tough ones”. The four KCCA bigs were limited to a combined 11-for-29 shooting from the field. Talk of unconventional means of winning a basketball game against a team with the reigning MVP and three former MVPs!
Timothy Odeke meanwhile bemoaned his team’s performances. “We were beaten hands down. Everything was not right, the girls were never in the game. They couldn’t do the basics right – box out, rebound” he said.
Prior to the Leopards-Rangers game, another underdog Vegetarian tamed Tiger Head Power thanks to John Otto who has turned into a regular scorer for his team high 18 points and all round team scoring and defending. Bernard Okumu added 13 points, 10 rebounds while Vinnie Jurua contributed 10 points as Vegetarian recorded their third victory in five.
Philip Ameny had game high 20 points for Power (3-2) and was the only player who reached double figures for Power.
A day that started with City Oilers spanking Diamonds in the Sun under the hot sunshine of the outdoor court ended with Warriors surviving Charging Rhinos by a whisker with underdogs Vegetarian and Rangers putting away favourites. Now that is a win for the fans.