It’s advantage Power after the opening game of the National Basketball League Playoff semifinals against UCU Canons.
Power edged Canons, 59-56, on Wednesday night in a low scoring thriller at Lugogo Indoor Stadium to take charge of the five-game series.
Joseph Ikong hit a corner 3-pointer on the first possession right after tip-off to set the game rolling for the five-time champions who took the opening quarter 17-12.
Canons, like their opponents, despite having a poor shooting night rallied early in the second quarter to pull within two points but Power stretched the lead to 8 points with less than four minutes to play in the period. UCU never fell far behind and went into the long break trailing by 3 points (26-29).
The two sides matched shot-for-shot in the entertaining and fast-paced third frame before UCU took the lead for the first time in the game on David Deng’s midrange jumper with 4:42 to play.
Ikong pulled up for a three to restore Power’s lead but it did not last a possession as Joas Maheta pulled up for two at the other end. Crisp ball movement from Power saw Brian Sivachi hit a wide-open long two but at the other end, Fadhili Chuma dunked over Libe Makala to send the crowd on their feet.
Ikong and Maheta exchanged 3-pointers but it was Canons that went into the final quarter with a one-point (45-44) lead.
Geoffrey Soro scored back-to-back jumpers to put Power in the lead at the start of the fourth quarter but Maheta tied the game with a trey and Deng restored UCU’s lead with 8:18 to play.
UCU went through a five-minute scoring drought, but Power could only open a five-point lead (55-50) during Canons’ dry stretch. Deng hit a 3-pointer and Chuma laid-in to tie the game at 55 with 2:47 to play.
However, Ikong restored Power’s lead with a lay-up and Soro hit a couple of foul shots that all but won the game as Deng’s two long-distance shots drew steal.
Syrus Kiviiri scored a quiet 12 points and picked 7 rebounds to lead Power, Ikong and Soro contributed 11 points apiece while Philip Ameny picked team-high 10 rebounds to go with 5 points.
Deng scored game-high 18 points, picked 8 rebounds and blocked 3 shots, Maheta contributed 13 points while Titus Lual pulled down game-high 12 rebounds and blocked 7 shots.
Game 2 of the series is on Sunday, November 17.