NBL Women’s Finals Series
Game 1: UCU 50-60 JKL
Game 2: UCU 52-60 JKL
Game 3: UCU 67-62 JKL
Game 4: UCU 50-59 JKL
Game 5: UCU 62-48 JKL
Game 6: UCU 69-57 JKL
Game 7: UCU 75-67 JKL
UCU Lady Canons coach Nicholas Natuhereza has revealed his tactics he used to beat JKL Lady Dolphins in the Women’s NBL finals series.
The Lady Canons shocked the defending champions to win the best of seven series 4-3.
And Nick says that he concentrated on stopping JKL’s small forward Brenda Ekone and their two bigs Hope Akello and Taudencia Oluoch.
“They have a player who is special in Ekon Brenda who is almost Unstoppable, she gives them literally easy points out of nothing because of her athleticism and transition,” Coach Nick said.
“They had two bigs (three before Stella Oyella left) that keep pressure on the boards so we knew that if we took care of those two things, and limit them defensively, we had a chance to win the series especially if our offense gave us a chance in any of the games.”
He added: “In the last four games, we took care of Ekone, she didn’t score as much as she is accustomed to scoring and took care of the bigs and that gave us a chance to win and like the saying goes; Offence wins games but defence wins championship.
“And that’s where we have to give ourselves credit for doing a good job in limiting them and neutralizing their size and also experience.”
In game seven to be specific, Ekone was limited to just four (4) points, a player that finished the season as the league’s top scorer.
No JKL player rebounded in double figures as UCU eased to a deserved game seven win having trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in the series before winning the last three games.
“It’s definitely a good feeling, the fashion in which we did it makes it extra special, we did come into these series as underdogs so the kind of players JKL has and the experience but we knew that with the work we put in we had a slight edge,” Nick added.
“Early in the series, we struggled with a little bit of inexperience but I think that is a good thing about the series is that you always have a chance to bounce back and I think when we got our confidence back, we were able to go on a run of three wins.
“It’s a great way to end the season and it’s great way to win a championship when almost no one believed in you but we believed in the work that we have been doing for the last two years.
“I am super proud of the girls. This is a new territory for them, I don’t think we had any player who had won the championship before, many of them joined us after our last championship so I am proud of them and hopefully this gives them a lot of confidence to keep growing and going.”
JKL had beaten UCU to win the previous two titles (2018 and 2019) and were favourites to seal a three-peat after coming into the finals without losing a single game.
The Lady Canons were underdogs, and Nick says that they capitalised on their status to pull off a shocker.
“Anytime when you are an underdog and you play like it, you have a chance to win because no one will take you serious, I feel like we crushed the party, but there are things that we did much better than JKL and probably we deserved to win. I am glad we won. The last three games we won were almost convincing at the end.
“It’s not easy to take the fact that anyone thinks you have no chance but I am happy that we managed to prove anyone wrong but most importantly to ourselves that can we can actually compete against the girls that we have faced.”
It was title number eight for UCU Lady Canons whose Men’s side are yet to win the title having come close in 2015 and 2019 before falling to City Oilers in game seven.
The Men’s team were once again stopped by City Oilers this year, at the semifinals.
And Coach Nick remains positive and what’s to continue trusting the process.
“We need to keep working hard. Every time I feel that we are getting close, some of our better pieces have to leave and I have to build afresh. But I have to look at the fact that we have come closer a number of times,” he explained.
“The most important thing is to keep doing what we are supposed to do.”