NBL Women Preview: Five-Horse Race?

For the first time in recent history, five teams have a real claim to this year’s Women National Basketball League title.

Much as defending champions UCU Lady Canons, JKL Lady Dolphins and newly promoted JT Lady Jaguars are genuine contenders, KIU Rangers and three-time winners KCCA Leopards will have a big say this time round.

This year’s season will have 12 teams, equal number with the Men’s division after Nkumba Lady Marines and A1 Challenge who were initially relegated, were brought back.

Also Read: NBL Fixture Out

Here is a detailed breakdown of the five competitors.

UCU Lady Canons

*Story line: Life Without Rose Akon

UCU lost their opening game of the regular season 70-49 to JKL, they grew and improved as the season progressed. And went on to recover from 3-1 down to stun JKL in finals series. And here we are, wanting to rule them out. There best player last season, Rose Akon, has left the country for greener pastures and her void will surely be felt after a season she averaged double doubles in scoring and rebounding. It’s surely hard to get a player who can have all attributes and that skill set that Akon has, but in Coach Nicholas Natuhereza, he has time and again built a couple. Centre Bridget Aber has a bigger role to play, and the same can be said of new signing Centre Nivin Philip who was part of South Sudan team that featured at Zone V. Shilla Lamunu has joined from Magic Stormers and is a big prospect. Maimuna Nabbosa and Agatha Kamwada are the other key players who left.

Depending Champions UCU

Key Player – Shakira Nanvubya: She was expected to leave the team after graduating but she has decided to upgrade her academics by going for a Masters. She has got to show her maturity and carry on the leadership burden. Millicent Otieno who literally won them last year’s finals with her shooting prowess and Hajara Najjuko Lovi are the other key players expected to carry the team forward.
*Last Season: Champions
*Projected Finish: Semifinalists

Squad – Milicent Otieno, Prosper Anyine, Aziidah Nabayunga, Nivin Philip, Divine Ezeofor, Bridget Aber, Winnie Isoto, Tracy Namugosa, Caroline Natako, Shakira Nanvubya, Sarah Loiki, Lindah Muzigo, Lovi Najjuko, Shilla Lamunu, Nerima Katrina

KIU Rangers

*Story Line: Genuine Title Challengers?

KIU Rangers were swept by UCU Lady Canons last season at the semifinals. And coming into this new campaign, coach Rogers Sserunyigo is confident that his side can go an extra place at least. Focus has been put on improving their front court, and the recruitment has turned to Netballers! Stella Nanfuka and Racheal Nanyonga to be specific. Shadiah Mbwali has joined from Nkumba Lady Marines, Patience Kirungi (Nabisunsa) and Brenda Ayere (JT Lady Jaguars) are the other new signings.

Sharon Kirabo (left)

Key Player – Ninette Uwineza. One of the best guards in the league, and a willing passer of the ball. She plays with a lot of maturity and conviction and you will need her to be at her worst to stop this team. Last season, she averaged five assists per game. Ines Kanyamunza, Sharon Kirabo, Perus Nyamwenge and Fildauce Namuleme are the other stars to watch out for.

*Previous Season: Fourth
*Projected Finish: Semifinalists

Squad – Stella Nanfuka, Ines Kanyamunza, Uwineza Ninete, Patience Karungi, Diana Lateru, Fildauce Namuleme, Patricia Nakiru, Mary Amaniyo, Florence Nanyonga, Racheal Nanyonga, Brenda Ayere, Sharon Kirabo, Purity Lamara, Shafiag Mbwali, Anena Charity, Perus Nyamwenge

JT Lady Jaguars

Division One Champions – JT Lady Jaguars

Story line: Here For the Big Prize.
JT Lady Jaguars bossed through the Division One and earned promotion in an unbeaten campaign last season. And they are one of the top contenders for this year’s title if you are to judge by the quality of their roster. They have made their intentions known by the addition of Ruth Letaru, Maimuna Nabbosa and Sandra Wangeshi among others, not to add Coach Geoff Omondi.

*Key Player – Zainah Lokwameri: She averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists last season. Plenty of experience having won the league with UCU. A force to reckon and will have a point to prove after failing to make the final team for Gazelles at Zone Five Champions. Moreen Amoding, Rhoda Nagita, Sarah Ageno and Namuwaya Muhayi are among other stars to look out for.
*Previous Season: Division One Champions
*Projected Finish: Finalists
*Squad – Brenda Kayaga, Ruth Letaru, Sumaya Nantongo, Annet Among, Zainah Lokwameri, Juliet Ageno, Rhoda Naggita, Maria Ndagire, Patricia Alado, Sarafina Driciru, Esther Marion, Sandra Wangeshi, Maimuna Nabbosa, Awidi Mariam, Namuwaya Muhayimuna, Amoding Moreen

KCCA Leopards

KCCA Leopards

Story Line – Time to end the title drought?

KCCA Leopards last won the league title back in 2014, and each season, they have had a good squad to compete for the bigger prize. But with the emergency of JT Lady Jaguars and signings at KIU Rangers, the Leopards must once again fallen below the pecking order. It’s reported that a US coach in Miller Fitzgerald has taken over from Ali Mavita who left the role due to Work commitments. They have lost three key players in Ruth Letaru, Leticia Awor and Becky Ongom. Former A1 Challenge and Angels player Ruth Kirungi is among the new faces and so is Peace Nakirijja. Former player Joy Chemutai has reportedly rejoined the team, but yet on the roster initially submitted to FUBA.

*Key Player – Martha Soigi. It was earlier thought that Soigi was going to move to Kampala University (where she works) after the team earned NBL promotion, but she has chosen to stay put. She averaged 9 points and 7 rebounds for the Leopards last season and will be asked to continue with her aggressiveness. Catherine Haruri who joined the side two seasons back from Nkumba and Agella Namirimu are the other stars to look out for.

*Previous Season: 3rd (Semifinalist)
*Projected finish: Quarterfinalists

*Squad – Catherine Haruri, Ruth Kirungi, Martha Nakalembe, Sharom Muwanguzi, Martha Soigi, Susan Becca Aanyu, Faridah Kadondi, Jesca Namugala, Asinah Kabendela, Angela Namirimu, Peace Nakirijja, Ruth Atuheire, Eileanne Nalunkuma

JKL Lady Dolphins

JKL (white)

*Story Line: Time To Make Amends

The Lady Dolphins were outright favourites to win last year’s title, and they were on a good run entering into the finals series unbeaten. But they squandered it when it mattered the most. They still look the team to beat thanks to Gazelles stars like Flavia Oketcho, Brenda Ekone, Evelyn Nakiyinji, Rita Imanishimwe and Hope Akello. The good news is that they have kept the core of last season’s squad, and have only lost Taudencia Oluoch among the big names. Leticia Awor has joined from KCCA Leopards while Agatha Kamwada is the another big addition from UCU. Becky Longom. Surprisingly, there is a certain Jamila ‘Zama’ Nansikombi registered on the team, but the US-based star laughed off the developments when contacted by this website, saying that she is not eyeing a return yet. This is a stacked team, and can go all the way

*Key Player – Hope Akello: Spoilt for choice on who to put here, as Flirsh and Ekone are other valuable names. But in a league where size is scarce, Hope will continue to dominate the paint.
*Previous Season – Finalists
*Projected Finish – Champions.

Squad – Kango Namulumba, Shamirah Nakiyiga, Agatha Kamwada, Toskin Delane, Leticia Awor, Stella Nikuze, Evelyne Nakiyingi, Becky Longom, Hope Akello, Ekon Brenda, Rita Imanishimwe, Flavia Oketcho, Hope Gimono, Generous Grant, Jamila Nansikombi


Miracle Eaglets

Storyline: Best of the Rest
Miracle Ravens harbours plans of giving the ‘big five’ a good run for their money this season after impressing in their debut season last campaign. Susan Amito and Moreen Atulinda headline the new additions. But they will have to first win games they are supposed to win, to start of thinking about the playoffs.

*Key Player – Brenda Alyano: Averaged 12 points last season and the guard will once again be the source of inspiration for the buzzing Eaglets.
*Previous Season: Quarterfinals
*Projected Finish: Quarterfinals

*Squad – Susan Amito, Brenda Alyano, Denise Tekitendwa, Pauline Nabatanzi, Kisolo Lunkuse, Margaret Jackie, Specioza Namukose, Shifah Nalukenge, Sarah Cherotich, Mbabazi Nakato, Moreen Atulinda, Winnifred Akello


*Storyline: How far can Angles go?
This promises to be a difficult season for Angels after losing Susan Amito, Ruth Kirungi and Denise Tekitendwa. They came close to putting up a shocker when they won game one against KCCA Leopards in the Quarters, but later squandered their advantage. It’s another season of so close yet so far for Angels.

*Key Player: Elizabeth Akol averaged 9 points last season. Catherine Amugust is another joy to watch.
*Previous Season: Quarterfinals
*Projected Finish: Quaterfinals

Squad – Catherine Amusugut, Martha Oluka, Grace Mudiba, Akello Malisera, Grace Kusaba, Martha Likicho, Sandra Nantume, Annet Nakibuuka, Joan Namatovu, Peace Kirabo, Rita Komugisa, Winnifred Nankya, Asunta Nyibol, Elizabeth Aguti, Lina Kuol Khor

Magic Stormers

Storyline – Trying Again
Just like UCU, Magic Stormers have a challenge of retaining their players every after season, especially those who have finished their Education. Magic Stormers is a Buddo SS team, with some few additions. Diana Letaru, Shilla Lamunu and Rachael Nanyonga have left, and coach John Mapeesa who recently led the school to Africa 3*3 schools title, will be scratching his head again.

*Key Player – Very strong in the paint, averaged 13 rebounds last season.
*Previous Season: Quarterfinals
*Projected Finish: Quarterfinals

Squad: Christine Nakito
Ajah Aguto, Ruth Nambirige, Christine Nakito, Chritine Lamaro, Bernatette Namwenge, Grace Namuli, Juliana Achuil, Ajok Deng, Natasha Immaculate, Adong Daphine, Nabuuka Doreen, Nyamwezi Daniela, Owor Nyachwo, Rachael Lokwang, Olivia Mulwana, Rose Asikuru

Nabisunsa Girls

*Storyline: Gals come of age

Nabisunsa turned heads last season and after their debut season in top flight, they will be meaning business this time round. They have lost some key players including Linda Aber who has moved to UPDF (Division One) while Patience Karungi went to KIU Rangers. But a big core of their squad last season is still around.

*Key Player – Sarah Namale. A very good rebounder though still lacks the needed physique to match other elite bigs in the division.

*Previous Season: Quarterfinals
*Projected Finish: Ninth

*Squad – Tamasha Nsubuga, Darlene Tashobya, Martha Bagaya, Fatuma Mwondha, Joy Amongin, Nankinga Nakato, Mich Nyadoi, Ruth Tushemerirwe, Priscilar Nambogo, Patience Nanziri, Passionate Nakalembe, Martha Yikiru, Mpoza Abigail, Babirye Nalweyiso, Auma Joy, Shabila Lumanyika, Abifaith Musiimenta, Sarah Namale

Kampala University

*Storyline: Target To Stay Afloat

Kampala University will be hoping to stay retain their NBL status on first time of asking. Their men’s team, back in 2019, were relegated at the end of their first season in NBL. The Girls team earned promotion after edging Lady Jills in the semis, despite falling to JT Lady Jaguars in the final.

*Key Player: Margaret Bagaala, the netballer averaged 20 points last season and will carry huge work load especially after the departure of Faridah Kadondi.

*Previous Season: Division One Runners-up

Squad – Viola Naigaga, Shakirah Nassaka, Margret Bagala, Nicholah Nuwasasira, Shamiah Namujjuz Harriet Amoding, Sibella Nabiryo, Joan Ainebyona, Sarah Nakasolya, Hanifah Namuli, Nanette Arakaza, Josephine Alimo, Lydia Anyanzwa, Grace Bangirana, Mercy Batamuliza, Thon Akeer, Emmanuella John Olga Bashige

A1 Challenge

*Story Line: Second Bite at the Cherry

A1 Challenge came second from the bottom last season but just like Nkumba Lady Marines, their season was saved after FUBA decided to increase the number of teams in NBL to 12. The 2005 Champions won just three games last season of the 18 played, a tally they should improve if they are to remain in the league.

Squad – Grace Wako, Abraham Akeer, Gertrude Nabwiire, Sera Yaweh, Phoebe Apio, Janet Odong, Robinah Nkabidwa, Peggy Nabweirre, Masturah Namuli, Irene Eyaru, Sharuah Kakwirya, Brenda Berochan, Cathy Kekimuli, Patience Nakalembe, Angela Madut, Natasha Amwene, Michael Binja, Anny Kaze

Nkumba Lady Marines

*Storyline: Lessons Learnt?
Nkumba were relegated with two games to spare last season. And that did not come as a surprise after they failed to acquire capable players to steer the side forward. The squad lacked quality to compete at the top stage and with the departure of Shadiah Mbwali, it will take real miracle for Nkumba to stay.

*Squad – Brenda Atim, Precious Ageno, Mellisa Namboowa, Jesca Nakamanya, Pennitah Nabakooza, Catherine Nakimuli, Patience Mauso, Isabella Namugabo, Pearl Nyakake, Rita Juru, Regina Ajuma, Precious Bisoboka, Victoria Nalwanga, Rachael Nambuya, Sophia Nakitende



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