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NBL: Comprehensive Look Into Men’s Team Of Regular Season

It’s been a week since we heard the final buzzer of the regular season – What a four months of non stop action it has been!

We have seen heart breaks, especially as teams dropped to lower divisions while others put their fists up on sealing their playoffs spots.

Notable individual brilliances that left many wondering, and here at Chimpsports, we can’t let go unrecognised.

Missed: None of Warriors players even made a bench. FUBA Images

Omissions include Joseph Ikong (Betway Power), Brian Waters (KCCA), Chris Omanye (KIU), Jimmy Enabu (City Oilers), Sudi Ulanga (KIU), Wilberforce Pirwoth (Our Saviour), David Deng (UCU) and Warriors players – despite putting up some of the best performances of the season. We are sorry.

This list, doesn’t include the best players in the league, otherwise, I would have named the whole of City Oilers team, this, is a list of players that I feel excelled better than the rest in the only concluded season. Are we on the same page?

The league stats, how each player managed to execute his role in relation to the supporting cast, was considered in this selection.

You may be surprised to see a player given a different position from what he actually plays on his team, but just know that we are into an era of ‘positionless basketball’ where all players are required to do a bit of everything regardless of which basketball position they’re listed as.

Ok, Here is the 2018 ChimpSports Team of Regular Season:

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1. Point Guard – Michael Bwanga (KIU Titans)

Good decision making, ball handling, shots and passing skills – KIU’s Michael Bwanga has it all. And, he has put all those attributes this season to good use.

Bwanga (left) taking on an opponent. FUBA images

He has torn down teams and players irrespective of their size and pedigree. You have to be a City Oilers player or fan to understand that statement in a normal perspective.

In the midst of complex situations especially when KIU struggled to keep the score equilibrium afloat, Bwanga has remained very calm and composed, and it’s this game approach, that has helped him guide the Titans to turn down the deficits.

If you see him play, the way he handles the ball before advancing it up the court and sets the team’s offense, it will not take you more seconds to know how good he is.

He is that point guard who at some occasions knocks down an open outside shot, and he does that with ease.

One major thing he beats other point guards with, is his unselfishness style. His main aim on the court is to pass the ball to his teammates, points will come as a bonus – Unlike other guards who will pass the ball when it’s their last option. In otherwords, this season, he is been a benchmark of how a good Point guard should be.

He has totalled 220 points and 56 assists this season.

Like many of you will agree with me, if he didn’t miss the first games of last year’s finals, it would have been a different story. If Coach Brian Wathum has Bwanga at his best together with Sudi Ulanga, Kazungu Ethienel and Chris Omanye, Titans are a safe bet to dethrone City Oilers this season.

Did You Know?

Only KIU Titans have beaten City Oilers twice this season, and in both games, Bwanga took matters to his shoulders – He scored game highs: 19 points on June 1st as KIU won 57-72 and 20 points in a 94-79 win on August 3rd.

2. Shooting Guard – Innocent Ochera (Ndejje University Angels)

This is a scoring position, and who else could take this one if not Ndejje’s Innocent Ochera. He showed that he is able to score from outside, mid-range and close to the basket, consinstely this season.

New Shooter in Town: Ochera going for a three. FUBA images

He beats the likes of Stephen Wundi (Betway Power) and Sudi Ulanga (KIU) to this spot, and not to take away much from the two, Innocent doesn’t have a good supporting cast, compared to the other two.

Am not trying to disrespect the likes of Kiryowe Nunda, Salim Kisily, Derrick Katumba, Samuel Ajack, Gauthier Baderha and any other Ndejje player, but my point is that they are not as good as compared to the quality at Power and KIU.

He has garnered 278 points in the concluded regular season, only Joseph Wacha (Our Saviour, 280), Wilberforce Pirwoth (Our Saviour, 297) and Landry Ndikumana (City Oilers, 303) have had a better total. But none of the mentioned, have scored more from outside, than Innocent. He has scored 36 times from downtown, something that you will need from a guard, when the opponent’s defense is water tight. Those 36 threes, have only been bettered by KIU’s veteran Sudi Ulanga.

But it’s not only his ability to score from everywhere that has only earned him a place on the team of the regular season, but his versatility has contributed much. Innocent made 43 steals, only beaten by Francis Nitus (Sharing Youth, 43), Wacha (48) and Brian Namake (JKL, 51).

Talk about the best shooting guards this world has ever seen like Michael Jordan, James Harden, Kobe Bryant to name a few, they all added an extra spice to their game – and if am to mention Innocent Ochera in that same breath, his ability to advance the ball up the court, the ease with which he swivelled past the opponents, the way he involved his teammates through his passes, and also spare time to provide the defense, and all, gives him an added advantage against the rest.

He is a hard worker even off the court, that he always hold his own personal training – and am writing this with much evidence. Plus, playing under a demanding Coach like Walker Obedi, who keeps ‘shouting’ at you right from tip-off, comes with a lot of implications, but it has kept him checked for performance, and he has guided Ndejje to the playoffs.

Did you know?
On August 19, Ochera put up the best individual display of the regular season when he scored a whooping 33 points as Ndejje Angels edged KCCA Panthers 71-77 at YMCA.

3. Small Forward – Geoffrey Soro (Betway Power)

Surprised he is on the team? If yes, you have been watching a different league.

Up Alone: Soro laying up. FUBA Images

From being surplus to requirements at KIU Titans, to becoming the most productive player at Betway Power, what a turn around for Geoffrey Soro.

Soro has scored 247 points for Betway Power, the highest for the side – Joseph Ikong comes in second with 197. He has in short, averaged 11 points in the regular season. The best signing of the season, like the statement goes, it was money well spent.

Only Oilers’ Ndikumana, has scored more inside points than Soro in the regular season. Soro managed 97 two pointers, as Ndikumana collected 119.

He’s been a great defensive player as well and he managed to capitalise on his height to provide cover at the back and pick rebounds – He contributed 26 assists and grabbed a 135 rebounds tally, averaging 6 rebounds.

Not me! Soro contesting a call

Betway Power ended the regular season on top of the log with 19 wins from 22 attempts, the team are stronger title contenders for the championship than they were last season, courtesy of Soro, and a couple of few other factors.

Geoffrey Soro is the only Betway Power player who played all their 22 games of the regular season. Consistency.

Did you know?

Back then while still playing for Ndejje Angels, Soro, was infamously named as the regular season MVP by FUBA in 2012.

4. Power Forward – Landry Ndikumana (City Oilers)

This is hands down.

Much has changed on Landry Ndikumana, including his size.

Catch me if you can: Landry driving past Warriors. FUBA Images

He has played 21 regular season games for City Oilers (missing only one game), and in that run, he has averaged a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Every team needs a player like Landry.

The power forward on a basketball team is usually responsible for rebounding and some scoring in the paint. A power forward should be big and strong and able to clear out some space under the basket – Isn’t this the right description of Landry?

He is a player that you cannot bully, but it’s the other way round.
He has scored the most points in the league (303 points) and picked the most number of rebounds (224). In short, he embodies everything that has made Oilers so great this season. He has been the most dominant player in the concluded regular season.

Many will say that he is surrounded by a good supporting cast which has made his load light -Jimmy Enabu, James Okello, Ben Komakech, Stephen Omony and others – But it’s not easy to standout in such a team, like Landry has.

Did you know?
Before joining the Oilers, Landry was a two time FIBA Africa Zone V Basketball Club championship MVP – He scooped the accolades in 2013 and 2014 with Burundi’s Urunani.

5. Centre – Ivan Lumanyika (JKL Dolphins)

Where can I start? From the ‘bad guy’ tag, to a National team call up. Ivan is a changed guy, and of all teams, it’s been JKL Dolphins where he has revived his career. And like many, I hope that the new Ivan, stays for long.

The changed one: Lumanyika protecting possession. FUBA images

He has been a big scorer but his main role on the team is to pick rebounds and block the shots, something he has executed to maximum.

His 23 blocks have not been bettered by none this season. He has picked 171 rebounds, only Francis Mbuyi (KCCA, 173), Fadhil Chuma (UCU, 197) and Landry (Oilers, 224) have registered more. However, he has only played 17 games.

He doesn’t have a consistent mid-range or three point shot, but he has collected a hefty figure of points – He has scored 248 points and also managed 32 steals in a stellar regular season. Incredible. He has averaged a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. What else would you ask?

He has done the basics right – offensively, he has stayed close to the rim and most of his points have come off a an offensive rebounds. He has not forced a pass, he gives it to the nearest player around, with one heart, he has defended and rebounded the basket by simply taking up space in the paint and forcing opponents to change their shots.

Lumanyika (15, infront) back in the National colours

Did you know?

Just few games into the season with his new team JKL, Lumanyika had done enough to convince the National team selection committee. He was summoned for the Silverbacks’ World Cup qualification campaign – Before, he was last seen in the National colours during the 2014 Afrobasket qualifiers.

The Bench:
Joseph Wacha (Our Saviour), Brian Namake (JKL Dolphins), Fadhil Chuma (UCU Canons), Kazungu Ethienel (KIU Titans), James Okello (City Oilers), Felix Mukunzi (UPDF Tomahawks), Fahmy Ssebatindira (Betway Power).

Keep It In: Chuma had a wonderful season with the Canons

The Coach: Walker Obedi (Ndejje Angels)

He didn’t make this list because he is currently the longest serving coach in the league, he is here on merit.

Ndejje Angels had some of their worst start of the season ever. After winning their league opener 72-48 against KCCA Panthers, the team lost six games on the trot and it was evident that the best they could get from the season was to survive the season.

Do as I say: Walker giving out instructions. FUBA Images

But more was yet to come, next on their menu was City Oilers, Betway Power and KIU Titans – in that order. Losing those three games couldn’t make a headline, and the team was on its way to dropping 1-9.

What happened? Walker inspired his side to a memorable 59-58 win over City Oilers on June 15th at Lugogo, but that was not all. The side ended Betway Power’s unbeaten run with a 63-52 convincing win on June 24th at YMCA. The Cinderella Story was completed on July 11th when they beat up on KIU Titans in one of the best games of the season – 78-81.

In one of the other big wins of the season, Ndejje edged Warriors 66-70 on August 24th. The team didnot only survive the drop, but squeezed their way through the playoffs spots where they will play Betway Power in the quarters.

Unbelievable: Brian Wathum of KIU lose to Walker for Coach of regular season

He doesn’t have quality in his side, but he makes his players play every game like its a final. He may be criticized for shouting at them from the start, but it’s this old school coaching style that have kept his players produce those results week in week out.

Walker, in simple terms, wrote a Hollywood script, and his players executed it very well. It’s something that can win a best picture at the Oscars or Golden Globe.

Betway Power, stand warned, u are in a devil’s path.

Did you know?

In 2010, it needed Police men to take coach Walker Obedi out of Lugogo stadium just inside the first quarter of the Ndejje-Wariors game. The incident was as a result of a verbal a verbal attack with umpire Baker Mande Kyambadde, who Obedi accused of doing nothing, as his players where fouled.

Years later, Obedi was also involved in an infamous incident, he misbehaved as Ndejje lost 2-1 to City Oilers in the quarters. Consequently, he was given a ten game ban by FUBA, and he sat off, as the season started in May 2016.

For the Ladies team, see here:

https://sports.chimpreports.com/2018/08/28/nbl-surprise-inclusions-in-women-regular-season-best-team/

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