Betway Power is one of the most successful clubs in Ugandan Basketball. The side has won five national league titles, only behind Falcons (6) and record winners City Oilers (7).
However, Power’s most recent success came nearly a decade ago when they edged old rivals Warriors 99-97 in Game 7 behind stellar performances from Ben Komakech and Isaac Afidra, who is the only title-winning member still at the club.
Power has since made three finals appearances in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The fourth appearance, at this moment, is a mirage.
The side, like every other offseason, made several changes to their playing staff waiving a couple of players while others were out of contracts. Power let go of nine players who include Syrus Kiviiri, Paul Odong, Joseph Ikong, Libe Makala, Philip Ameny, Samuel Agutu, Fahmy Sebatindira, Sulaiman Bbale, and David Opolot.
You know a team is in trouble when they get rid of their best players, including the league Most Valuable Player. Welcome to the depressing regression of Betway Power, already in progress.
Early last month, Power played their first preseason game against KCCA Panthers to give their new-look roster game time. The side lost the close contest 70-66 with Denis Balungu, Isaac Afidra and Yesman Bushiri scoring 17, 15 and 11 points respectively.
For those who watched the triple-overtime win over City Oilers in the semifinals of the UCU Invitational Tournament early last month, Power still seemed like a squad full inspiration and would easily hoodwink fans into thinking they are still competitive.
But the truth is; as the signings are slowing down and becoming official, Power is still engaged in battles to retain Brian Sivachi as well as get in Gauthier Baderha and Salim Kisly from Ndejje University all of whom were crucial in that win against short-handed Oilers.
Power has a glaring deficit in terms of offensive production. Many will argue that Denis Balungu is a good scorer, and sometimes efficient but the truth is the shooting guard is not a consistent scorer. Ivan Lumanyika, who is probably their biggest acquisition this offseason, is not a given as his availability is always in doubt.
While it’s tough to accurately grade Power’s offseason until all the dust settles, you can at least get a sense that the five-time champions left a lot to be desired.
Of course, a lot can change between now and the start of the season but Power could struggle mightily during the 2020 season.