JKL Lady Dolphins will face off with UCU Lady Canons in the Women National Basketball League finals.
The teams face off on Wednesday evening in game one, for the best of seven series at MTN Indoor Arena in Lugogo.
None other than these two sides deserve to be here, the teams have been the best so far. Sorry KCCA Leopards.
It’s a much anticipated finals that brings together some of the best players in the league, and the series promises to go to the last wire.
UCU have won the league for the past three editions, and the side will be seeking to make it fourth on a trot.
However, in JKL, UCU are facing probably their toughest competitor. And for the first time since 2010, its not a UCU vs KCCA finals.
Road to the finals:
JKL finished the regular season at the top of the log, 17-1.
The team’s only loss came against KCCA on July 13th – JKL lost 57-60 in overtime.
In the Playoffs, they ousted UMU Ravens with a 2-0 sweep. JKL won 61-37 on september 8 before registering a commanding 98-46 victory in game two, the following day at Lugogo.
In the semis, JKL swept A1 Challenge 3-0 in the best of five series.
UCU on the other hand, did not have a dream regular season. They finished in third position with 14 wins from 18 games, 14-4.
They lost to JKL twice, A1 and KCCA in the regular season.
In the playoffs, they recorded 93-34 and 76-51 against KIU Rangers in game one and two respectively.
They eliminated KCCA at the semifinals stage, 3-0.
Both sides are littered with cream de la cream this league can offer. However, it’s the finals that are going to test whose, can last the marathon.
UCU have tired legs at the moment following their recent participation in the concluded FIBA Africa Zone Five where they finished third.
The Lady Canons still, have some bad news: Their head coach Nicholas Natuhereza will miss the finals for another year running. The coach is already in USA for his educational attachments.
Also, the team will miss the services of Rhoda Naggita and Esther Akwap who picked their injuries in the Zone Five in Dar es salaam.
UCU will therefore rely on Zainah Lokwameri, Captain Sarah Ageno, Vilma Achieng, Rosine Micomyiza, Brenda Akon among others for a result.
Speaking of tired legs, JKL will lay the same excuse but in a different currency. Hope Akello, Jamila ‘Zama’ Nansikombi and Rita Imanishimwe have just come back from the tiresome FIBA U23 3*3 World Cup in Xiao, China. Its not yet known how much energy the tourney and trip took out of the three girls.
Coached by Mandy Juruni who doubles as the Oilers tactician, JKL will also look at the armoury of Nakirijja Peace, Muhayimuna Namuwaya, Flavia Oketcho, Angela Namirimu, Alicia Wasagali among others.
Players To Watch:
Rose Akon – UCU Lady Canons
Akon is having her debut season with the University team after joining from Magic Stormers.
Everyone thought that she will be struggling due to the change in team’s demands, it always comes with pressure but the ease with which she adapted into the UCU’s system was a big reason as to why the side finished in the top places in the regular season.
For the past years, UCU’s best player has always been Vilma Achieng, however, the player had an on and off regular season due to to her Education engagements, but I don’t remember the time when UCU missed Vilma, and its Akon to thank.
She has picked the most rebounds, 19 in total, 10 more than KCCA’s Martha Soigi in second.
Notably, Akon has picked the most rebounds in the league so far – 216.
Also, she was voted the best rebounder in the concluded 2018 FIBA Zone Five in Dar es salaam.
Rita Imanishimwe – JKL Lady Dolphins
I am going with Rita over Zama and the rest for just one simple reason – This means a lot to her.
Rita is facing her former club, she joined JKL from UCU this season. The memories of the three-peat she won with the team are still fresh, and she finds herself at the opposite end to end something she put a brick on, this comes with much pressure, and much will be at stake.
She will come putting on a different face against her good friends, like Rosine Micomyiza, not to mention Sarah Ageno with whom she joined UCU in 2014 after the pair impressed in a high school tournament in Mbarara.
She has been an influential figure at JKL, playing 18 games this season – only Peace Nakirijja (20) and Angella Namirimu (19) have played more for the team this season.
She is one of the best shooters of the ball in the league, and if her teammates can create the required screens, she will roast UCU.
With 227 points, only Zama (297) has scored more points for JKL than Imanishimwe so far.
She has laid 35 assists and averaged five rebounds per game.
One of her best games of the season came against UCU in the first round where she scored 11 points against her former masters.
What They Said:
JKL Star – Zama
We are prepared and ready to compete for the Championship.
We are not thinking its going to be an easy way through, but we are hoping for the best and we pray that God can lead us to victory.
UCU is a team that plays and competes too, but at the end of the day, the better team will win the championship.
UCU Coach – Kiguyi
The team is in good shape, We will try to take Care of the ball offensively and try to limit turnovers.
Head to Head
From 2017, both sides have met in the league on eight occasions, they have won four times each.
Last season, JKL lost 62-66 in round one before winning 69-47 in round two.
Both sides met in the best of five semifinals where UCU won 3-1 on their way to completing a three-peat.
This year, JKL has won both the regular season games – Juruni’s side won 50-46 in the first round on June 1st at YMCA before notching another victory – 55-52 in game two at KIU court on August 11.
History Against JKL
For starters, JKL Lady Dolphins were established in 2015. This will be their first top flight finals in their small history.
Fredricks Freedom’ Owora’s side will be up against arguably the biggest women franchise in Uganda basketball.
As JKL will be bragging about playing in their first finals, UCU are at this stage for the tenth record time.
The side had earlier played nine league finals – Triumphing on seven occasions. The University side will be seeking to go one past Lady Bucks who also won it on seven occasions.
The Series Menu:
Wednesday, October 17
UCU vs JKL, 7 PM (Game one)
Friday, October 19
JKL vs UCU, 7 PM (Game two)
Monday, October 22
UCU vs JKL, 7 PM (Game three)
Wednesday, October 24
JKL vs UCU, 7 PM (Game four)
*The above are the allocated dates, per the FUBA fixture which is subject to change at any time due to various reasons.
*All games will be played at MTN Indoor Arena in Lugogo, as of now.
*In case of Game five, six and seven, dates will be communicated.
2017 – UCU Lady Canons
2016 – UCU Lady Canons
2015 – UCU Lady Canons
2014 – KCCA Leopards
2013 – UCU Lady Canons
2012 – KCCA Leopards
2011 – UCU Lady Canons
2010 – UCU Lady Canons
2009 – KCCA Leopards
2008 – UCU Lady Canons
2007 – KCCA Leopards
2006 – Lady Bucks
2005 – A1 Challenge
2004 – Lady Bucks
2003 – Makerere Sparks
2002 – Lady Bucks
2001 – Lady Bucks
2000 – Lady Bucks
1999 – Lady Bucks
1998 – Lady Bucks