Wednesday, September 28
•JKL Lady Dolphins Vs UCU Lady Canons – 6:30pm
•Nam Blazers Vs City Oilers – 8:30pm
JKL Lady Dolphins will go all out for their third straight title when they meet UCU Lady Canons in game one of the Tusker-Lite sponsored NBL finals.
The Lady Dolphins beat UCU in 2018 and 2019 to win their previous accolades, with the subsequent seasons not held due to COVID-19.
In 2018, they swept (4-0) UCU to win their maiden title before needing game seven the following year to extend their dominance.
And they remain strong favourites in this best of seven series because of the gulf in quality that has been evidenced throughout the season as the side remains unbeaten so far.
They won all 18 games in the regular season, including beating UCU twice in the regular season; 70-49 and 74-63.
JKL, coached by former League MVP Henry Malinga, swept Nabisunsa (2-0) and KCCA Leopards (3-0) in the quarter and semis respectively.
The story of JKL is amazing; the Ladies team came into existence in 2015, played in NBL in 2017 when they finished third before winning their first title in 2018 when they finally broke KCCA-UCU duopoly.
Before then, no team not named UCU or KCCA had won the league since 2006 (Lady Bucks).
And it’s strong to note that only UCU and Lady Bucks have won the league three times in a row, with the latter going on to win five between 1998 and 2002.
Coincidentally, Flavia ‘Flirsh’ Oketcho (JKL captain), played for that Lady Bucks winning team in her early beginnings before moves to UCU and KCCA Leopards.
Before the start of this season, all was not rosy for JKL after shareholder Jeff Nyangenya parted ways with the franchise to give rise for JT Jaguars that is playing in the Lower Division (Men and Women).
The JT Lady Jaguars went on to take two integral players – Zainah Lokwameri and Muhayimuna Namuwaya – from JKL.
But the Lady Dolphins have proved handful for every opponent in the NBL this season, with Hope Akello and Brenda Ekone leading the massacre.
Work Cut Out for UCU
Coach Nicholas Natuhereza will be seeking for consolation in the Women Division after his UCU Canons (Men) failed in their pursuit to return to the finals after they were eliminated by City Oilers.
This Lady Canons team has improved massively as the season progressed, with some players in the team making their debut season in top flight.
UCU have won the league a record joint 7 times but none of the players on the current team was part of the side that won won their last title in 2017.
That was a strong team, starting with Rosine Micomiza, Rita Imanishimwe, Zainah Lokwameri, Sarah Ageno and Vilma Aceng. Not to mention Judith Ayo Nansobya among others.
With due respect, the current squad, besides Rose Akon, can match that 2017 team or their opponent at JKL.
Besides Akon, no UCU player is averaging double figures in scoring, with Milicent Otieno on 8.6 while Agatha Kamwada, Aziida Nabayunga, Bridget Aber, Hajjara Najuuko and Shakira Nanvubya following closely in single digits.
What this UCU team lacks in quality, compensates it with effort, but it might take more than that against a well oiled JKL side.