The Coronavirus pandemic may have forced the indefinite suspension of the 2020 National Basketball League season tip-off but has only delayed the inevitable – JKL Lady Dolphins’ third straight title.
As ridiculous and probably outrageous a claim that may sound given not a single game has been played, it is valid nonetheless and in this article I will try to justify the claim.
The JKL Lady Dolphins were not the noisiest team in the National Basketball League offseason. However, as a team on the edge of becoming a true league power and probably a dynasty, the Lady Dolphins made two key moves that should keep them favourites.
When Lady Dolphins set vets Angela Namirimu and Peace Nakirijja free, in came Brenda Ekon and Zainah Lokwameri. The duo was part of the team during the regional success in Dar es Salaam last year.
In Ekon, Dolphins signed a proven scorer. The guard has led the league scoring chat over the past couple of seasons with Nkumba Lady Marines. Ekon is athletic and devastating in the open court and despite her inabilities in the half-court are compensated with a strong drive.
I have said on numerous platforms that Lokwameri has the highest Basketball IQ in the division and sometimes disregarded but the small forward continues to prove her understanding of the game every other season.
By signing Lokwameri, Lady Dolphins wiped out a glaring weakness from last season – lack of a small forward. Henry Malinga, the man in charge, used three players – Ritah Imanishimwe, Brenda Nakitende and Peace Nakirijja – in intervals at 3 but none worked.
Lokwameri is not a proven scorer capable of 10-15 points a game but she can also create, rebound and is a good team and individual defender.
Nakiyinji, Gimono ready to step up
JKL Lady Dolphins have not only signed well, but they have also allowed their talent to develop within its system. Some of their players have steadily improved their performance season to season and as their experience and abilities mature, players have been allowed to play a more significant role.
Once ready, the players have both an opportunity and a place to step to. Hope Akello, Evelyn Nakiyinji, and Hope Gimono have all experienced that kind of growth from within. While Akello has already established herself over the past couple of seasons, Nakiyingi and Gimono will definitely step up this season and play a more significant role.
Nakiyinji has grown into a steady point guard who understands her role whenever she steps on the floor, and she has developed an outside shot.
Core of the team
Hope Akello, Flavia Oketcho, Ritah Imanishimwe and Stella Oyello have been the core of JKL Lady Dolphins’ success.
Maintaining the core of the team only means there will not be any gelling issues as they already understand each other.
Lady Dolphins look like an extremely close-knit team that each member seems to buy into their role on the team and in the overall big picture. From the stars to the bench players, everyone appears to know and accept their roles. As results have demonstrated, it’s clear the team has a unified culture.
Maureen Atulinda and Muhayimina Namuwaya will give the team length and rim protection off the bench and a breather to Akello and Oyella.
JKL Lady Dolphins Roster
Backcourt: Flavia Oketcho, Evelyn Nakiyinji, Hope Gimono, Ritah Imanishimwe, Brenda Ekon
Frontcourt: Zainah Lokwameri, Brenda Nakitende, Hope Akello, Stella Oyella, Maureen Atulinda, Muhayimina Namuwaya, Toskin Thelma Delane