Friday, July 22
•Angels Vs KIU Rangers – 7pm
•Nam Blazers Vs UCU Canons – 9pm
UCU Canons Point guard Fayed Baale returns as the side take on Nam Blazers in the Tusker-Lite sponsored NBL match at Lugogo on Friday.
The tricky guard last played for the Canons on April 24 at YMCA in a 58-44 win over City Oilers, in a game he injured his hand.
Since then, UCU has slipped to 6-3 (won six and lost three), including stunning losses against KCCA and Our Saviour.
His return is a big boost for coach Nicholas Natuhereza and timely against one of the title rivals.
Baale brings incredible ball-handling skills and his distinct playmaking abilities makes him one of the few elite guards in the league.
He has the ability to create an open shot for teammates, breakdown defences and recently added outside shooting to his game.
Baale, who averages 10 points, returned on court for Uganda team at the U23 Nations League in Kenya.
But it will take more than Baale to stop Nam Blazers and they will have to be at their absolute best especially their top performers like Peter Sifuma and Jerry Kayanga who are both averaging double figures in scoring.
Titus Lual who is averaging double digits in rebounding, has been a shadow of himself in most games this season and it was no wonder why he was left out of the Silverbacks squad for the World Cup Qualifiers second round.
Ibanda Lwabaga, Fadhil Chuma and Sudi Ulanga are the other influential players on the team that will be expected to show up for a side that last played on July 3.
Nam Blazers Seeking 9th Straight Win
Nam Blazers are on terrific form, and have won eight in a row, including a deserved win over City Oilers that sealed their double against the Seven-time Champions.
They lost 62-66 to UCU on April 29 and this will be the third meeting between the two sides – Nam Blazers beat UCU 66-45 in 2021 before the season was suspended.
Coach Stephen Nyeko Esco will feel contented with what his players have put out in the last couple of games, including that 100-42 win over Falcons.
But his biggest hurdle will always manifest in selection headache given the limited slots on foreign players.
Against Oilers, it was point guard Chris Omanye (Congo) and forward Chuol Nyuot (South Sudan) who were sacrificed in favour of the quartet of Amisi Said (Congo), Ariel Okall (Kenya), David Dikong Deng (South Sudan) and Ken Wachira (Kenya).
Wachira struggled and ended up playing below 10 minutes in that game, but was later impressive against Falcons and his ability has never been in doubt after he was named an MVP in Kenya league last season.
But he is yet to find the chemistry and might be sacrificed for Omanye to return to the fold.
Amisi Saidi (Carmelo) is an obvious choice while Dikong will be super excited to face his former side.
But away from the foreign contingent, Nam Blazers are so loaded as we saw Joseph Ikong, Paul Odong and Collins Kasujja put up impressive performance to overcome Oilers.
And whoever wins on Friday – UCU (14-4) and Nam Blazers (13-4) – will feel that they are the right contender to end City Oilers dominance come play-offs.
Featured Image by Don Mugabi