The 2014 FIBA Africa Zone V Club Championships will tip off on Monday, August 25 at the KPA Makande Hall in Mombasa, Kenya.
The annual club basketball tournament has attracted 10 men’s teams and 8 women’s teams from hosts Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Somalia and Ethiopia that will be competing for regional honours.
Ugandan teams have not found it easy playing outside the country. As a matter fact the only two times a local team has emerged champions of the region were in Kampala – Falcons (2000) and Lady Bucks (2004). No team has played a championship game since Warriors in 2009.
Four teams will represent the country in the week long event and i will take a look at chances of City Oilers, Tiger Head Power, UCU Lady Canons and KCCA Leopards at the Afro-Basket qualifiers when they go against the regions best teams.
The City Oilers are barely five years old. They are having their first go at regional glory but several of their players have played at this level.
The reigning National Basketball League Champions, City Oilers have got a fine blend of steel and finesse as well as experience which make them real contenders on their first look.
City Oilers are the most complete team of the four representatives. Their inside and outside game fine, they have a complete and competitive bench. The team can score on transition and have got a great team defense.
There should be little wrong going forward or defending given the size, quality and variety at City Oilers. They have the best chance of all local representatives.
Tiger Head Power
“The guys are nearly ready to go” were coach Bernes Akunda’s words after Power’s tune up game against Falcons at Lugogo which they lost 86-95.
So will Power battle for the title? Instincts say that defending champions – Urunani, Espoir, Coop Bank, KPA? and probably City Oilers will battle for that but to put Bernes Akunda’s words into perspective, Power is going to compete if a few polish-ups (mostly mental) are done between now and then.
Akunda actually believes his team will be in the medal bracket. Take it as you like. “We are going there to compete. We have to be in the medal bracket” he said.
So, will Power compete with one real point guard in Dulla? To Akunda that is not an issue. “All i want from these guys consistence. It doesnt matter who takes the court fisrt or who is out” he says.
“You may say those teams (Espoir, Urunani and Spartans) are strong but they dont know how we play as well. It will be a matter of who figures out the other first and we want to be do that first”.
“We will do a few defensive stops in the coming practices and put our heads right and we be good to go” Akunda told Kawowo Sports.
The KCCA Leopards may be without their star center, Peace Proscovia due to work commitments let alone Martha Soigi who hasnt played since forever. This leaves Leopards with two bigs Muhamuna Namuwaya and Jackie Namayega who are not close to the other pair.
Leopards, who have finished third in the last two successive years and finalist in 2009 at the regional tournaments will now look to forward, Claire Lamunu and the experience of guards, Flavia Oketcho and Rebbecca Akullo and hope the long distance shot of Winnie Anyango is on.
UCU Lady Canons
The Lady Canons are awaiting the clearance of star forward, Purity Odhiambo that should happen by the end of today or probably tomorrow according to UCU’s coach Boniface Okello.
“The girls are ready to compete. We are only waiting for FIBA to clear her (Odhiambo) which should happen today or probaly tomorrow”
While UCU have not been as invincible as last season, if Odhiambo is cleared , along with Vilma Achieng UCU’s front court may be a handful.
There back court is bleeding since the departure of point guard Angella Namiriimu. Brenda Mbone wont go for event as Achieng and Odhiambo fill the two spots given to foreigners.
Okello will now likely put Judith Nansobya on the ball which will limit her being more natural playing and shooting off the ball.
With the absence of Moreen Amoding who will be doing her research proposal presentation in the same period it gets no difficult than that for the Lady Canons.
Eagle Wings will not be there to defend their title but still KCCA Leopards and UCU Lady Canons will have to beat a Kenyan opposition that have dominated the annual event to the glory. Hosts, Kenya Port Authority (KPA) and United States International University (USIU) are the women’s teams to beat.