In today’s National Basketball League, there seems to be a subsidiary competition that involves sieving potential challengers to City Oilers’ “crown”.
UCU Canons have gone through that filter twice (2015 and 2019) and presented the hardest challenge to the seven-time champions with both finals decided in a Game 7.
One can justifiably claim Canons over achieved last year when they reached the championship round at the expense of Power, but the question is; can they replicate last season’s heroics?
Of all the top sides in the National Basketball League, only UCU Canons will enjoy continuity this season.
In fact, Canons lost only three players from last season – Joas Maheta, Gideon Kasasa and Osama Arion, but it’s only Maheta who played regularly. It’s the only squad in the league with over 90 percent roster continuity.
The core of the team that includes the regular starting five of Fayed Baale, Isaiah Ater, David Deng, Titus Lual and Fadhil Chuma as well as Ceasar Adoke, Tyron Martin and Peter Sifuma off the bench is still intact.
Style of Play
UCU Canons were the best transition team last season with all the five guys on the floor able to run up court and back. UCU’s transition offense troubled all the teams in the league including Oilers and with nearly all the players continuing with the side this season, expect more of the same and even better.
While Canons struggled a little in the sets especially in the finals, they still managed to create a lot of open looks for shooters Isaiah Ater and Jerry Kayanga and demonstrated they can do that consistently. They can only getter better at the sets with another season together.
However, UCU’s bench left a lot to be desired. Ceasar Adoke is aggressive but too careless with the ball. Whenever Baale was called by coach Nick Natuhereza to catch some breath on the bench, Adoke was too casual and often turned over the ball and failed to control games.
Tyron Martin was nagged by injury in the playoffs and barely contributed but when fit he is a very good cover for David Deng on both ends of the floor.
Peter Sifuma is inconsistent, gets lost in switches and picks up unnecessary fouls but he can be a great contributor off the bench once he finds his spot in the post.
How can Canons get better?
If the Canons are going to hit the ceiling again this year, Fayed Baale has to eliminate those occasional head-scratchers, and that starts with simply taking better care of the ball and attacking the basket.
The veteran presence of Sudi Ulanga and Abraham Isiagi could help calm some nerves in crucial moments of games. Ulanga’s ability to drive to the basket and shoot from outside adds a lot to the team’s already potent offense.
At the defensive end, there’s length in abundance between Deng, Lual and Chuma. Like last season, they’re going to be disruptive, and they’re going to frustrate opposing offenses.
The side will definitely benefit from continuity and if Natuhereza can convince Baale how important his scoring is, it should be fine and Canons could return to the finals.
UCU Canons Roster
Fayed Baale, Ceasar Adoke, Isaiah Ater, Jerry Kayanga, Sudi Ulanga, David Deng, Tyron Martin, Titus Lual, Peter Sifuna, Fadhil Chuma, Abraham Isiagi, David Okello,