NBL: Best Five Of The Regular Season

The regular season has ended which means it’s time to assess the league’s best performers and compile our Team of the Season.

It’s always the toughest task to name just five players from a pool of about 150 players.

But nonetheless, I believe I am in the right position to do so having watched over 90% of the regular season games.

There are a not many reasons as to why some deserving names didn’t make the team, but allow me give them a mention before we get down to business – Innocent Ochera (Power), David Okello (UPDF), Moses Mugisha (Our Saviour) and Edgar Munaaba (KIU Titans).

Here is my team of the regular season:

Haron Alinaitwe (Ndejje University Angels)

The face of flare – Haron Alinaitwe. (FUBA photos)

Haron Alinaitwe is the smallest player in the league but despite undersized and small wingspan being an overwhelming hindrance as he is always in mismatches, he leads the league in most steals (80) with Our Saviour’s Joseph Wacha (70) coming closest.

He is the second on most assists behind Jimmy Enabu (City Oilers) and that surely describes his game.

Pint-sized but blessed with quick feet and skill to penetrate defences in Isolation, carve out space and has produced the best highlights in terms of ankle breakers and killer crossovers.

He is an exciting ball handler, giving fans want they want in entertainment with those mazy runs and also produces the results for his team.

The only missing thing from Alinaitwe’s resume this season is a Playoff spot after his side Ndejje Angels finished outside the top-8 team bracket and that makes him an odd man out from the list.

If he was only surrounded by better players, the Angles would have been a playoff material. Samuel Ajak missed the entire first round, but averaged double figures (26) in scoring. The rest of the pack were below average, just like the whole team and it has been the story of this team since coach Walker Obedi walked away about three seasons ago.

But despite spending the entire season fighting at the foot of the table, Alinaitwe was a standout performer, playing all the team’s 24 games (starting 21) and averaged 9.4 points including scoring 21 points against Tropical Royals in what was their most important game of the whole season.

Tonny Drilleba (City Oilers)

Shooting lights out – Tonny Drilleba with the ball

Many are still contemplating on whether Tonny Drilleba is the best three-point shooter in the league that also has good shooters like Innocent Ochera and Ahmed Kassa among others. I do believe that he is also the best player in the league, and that is my opinion.

He leads the league in three-point with a 37.3% and is also very efficient from mid-range. Such has been his greatest armoury and a big reason why Oilers have trusted him with important shots on several occassions.

His main highlight this season was shooting 8-of-14 to garner 21 points as City Oilers came from 12 points down to beat UCU Canons in the second round.

He is not a volume shooter, chooses his moments right and his uncanny ability to make really complex shots from downtown makes him Oilers best chance at a straight eight title.

He missed five games due to injury, and he is averaging 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He has carried almost Oilers offense on most occassions by himself and one of his other good attributes is his vision combined with intelligence while on court. Such a calm guy and team player.

Amisi ‘Carmelo’ Saidi (Nam Blazers)

The Unstoppable machine – Amisi Saidi Danny aka Carmelo

Nam Blazers go into the playoffs as favourites after an impressive regular season that was partly made possible by an MVP-performance of Amisi Saidi Danny popularly known as Carmelo.

He was outstanding during his seasons at Warriors before a cameo season at Power in 2021 but he fully showcased his dominance at Nam Blazers this season.

He is averaging 16 points, the highest tally in the division. Played 19 games for the Blazers before he was rested for the remaining part to preserve more energy for the forthcoming playoffs. His points tally this season is 100+ more than the next highest scorer for Blazers (Paul ‘McGyver’ Odong). He is also averaging 8.5 rebounds.

He is made for big occassions and enjoys limelights at every give opportunity, I am also talking about that famous celebration of roaring the boat everytime he muscles his way for a lay up.

He scored a game high 19 points and 11 rebounds as Blazers beat City Oilers in March in the league opener. In the second round meeting, he added 21 points and 14 rebounds as Nam Blazers completed a double over the seven-time champions. And when Blazers met UCU in the second round, he tallied 17 points and 14 rebounds to avenge the first round loss where he scored 15 points off the bench. Such is the dominance.

With his gigantic build and athleticism, Carmelo is a force at either side of the court and has duly used his upper body strength to bully opponents, turning into the last league player anyone would prefer seeing coming at them full steam.

Peter Sifuma (UCU Canons)

Silent Canon – Peter Sifuma

A very intelligent post player who has been the beating heart of UCU Canons especially with Titus Lual struggling to find consistency while Fayed Baale sat out with an injured hand.

He has averaged 12.4 points and 9.1 rebounds in the regular season. He may not have influenced the game more than he has managed but he has been integral as the Canons finished second.

Another player who doesn’t shy away from the big stage – scored a combined total of 27 points and 25 rebounds in both meetings against Nam Blazers and also had a team high 16 points in that loss to City Oilers.

He is a good rim protector, very efficient on offense, can rebound, dish out and can do a little bit of everything his team needs, although he still needs to work on his shooting from a distance.

And very few players have managed to pick player of the match accolades than Sifuma has managed this season.

Mabor Makol (JKL Dolphins)

Sheer dominance – Mabor Makol

When Mabor Makol was leaving Rez Life (Lower Division), Nam Blazers were the first to be notified but shunned the opportunity to sign him before JKL picked a lottery.

His performance strongly lays claim to being the best of the regular season. He has just been undone by lack of quality around him.

Formed a formidable partnership with Malual Dier and they could have finished at least above seventh if Brian Namake played more 13 games he managed.

His 294 rebounds is the most in the league. He scored 347 points in total, only Innocent Ochera (Power) has scored more. In brief, he is averaging 15.8 points and 13.4 rebounds.

These staggering stats are just unprecedented and only scratch the surface for the type of player Makol has been in the regular season.

He has a strong physique and towering figure that enables him clear the boards and you just cannot stop him when he takes flight unless committing a foul. He has power, finesse and shown poise in difficult times and has been the lighting candle for JKL.

He has been consistently dominant even in games JKL had no chance. Very efficient in the paint proved virtually impossible to stop even against the league elite big men including Oilers duo of James Okello and Ivan Lumanyika. He has a game high 21 points and 12 rebounds against Oilers in the second round.

Coach – Baker Kyambadde (UPDF Tomahawks)

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