NBL: It’s playoffs time

We look at whether the Titans or any other side can spring a surprise starting with the quarterfinal matchups

Man’s game: Oilers’ Omony (left) playing defence against KIU’s Kazungu Ntwal. PHOTO BY Ismail Kezaala 

BY Elvis Senono

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KAMPALA.

Betway Power’ grudge with City Oilers has seen the two teams, level on five National Basketball League (NBL) titles each label this season “as the race for the sixth.”
And having finished as the top two seeds going into the playoffs that started last evening, they gave more credence to the favourites tag as they bid to add to their respective crowns.
KIU Titans, last season’s playoff losing finalists are on the other hand not so far behind having concluded with a 17-5 record that was only bettered by the Oilers 18-4 and Power’s 19-3.
We look at whether the Titans or any other side can spring a surprise starting with the quarterfinal matchups.

Betway Power(1) vs. Ndejje (8)
Prediction: Power 2-1
Falcons in 2013, were the last team with a seeding outside the top six to make the playoff final before falling short against City Oilers.
The Ndejje University- Betway Power tie appears to have shades of a similar run should they pull off what would be a shock upset.
The Walker Obedi coached side were expecting at least a sixth place finish only to be deducted two points for fielding Daniel Owiti who had not yet completed a move from Charging Rhino.
They thus concluded with a 10-11 sequence that however includes back to back 63 -52 and 59-58 wins respective over City Oilers and Power.
The latter ended Power’s nine-game unbeaten start but they should still have enough depth added by the additions of Stephen Wundi and Geoffrey Soro.

City Oilers (2) vs. Sharing (7)
Predcition Oilers 2-0
A win for Sharing Youth would present the biggest upset of the round. The 68-63 and 77-64 regular season results seem to give the perfect picture of this series. Sharing are always competitive no doubt. But that alone might not be enough against five time champions who know when to peak.

KIU Titans (3) vs. UCU (6)
Prediction KIU 2-1
The matchup represents a clash of the different approaches the two university sides have taken. KIU as they bid to win a first ever league title abandoned the scholarship based approach of luring players. That has protected them from the predictable turnover of players after completing education that has hit UCU hardest this season.
A more daunting matchup against City Oilers is expected in the semifinals as they seek the elusive first title.

Pemba Warriors vs. JKL
Prediction Warriors 2-1
Fourth against fifth is often the more balanced matchup of all four playoff quarterfinals bankrolled by Tusker Lite and Sprite this year.
This year seems to be no different despite Pemba Warriors winning both regular season games 76-69 and 58-46.
Two time champions Warriors went for youth over experience but will come up against a JKL side whose starting five that includes Brian Namake and Ivan Lumanyika is as good as any in the top division.
The latter’s lack of depth is however what makes the matchup more balanced.

JKL to challenge KCCA and
Lady Canons dominance
JKL have assembled their side after picking some of their rivals KCCA and UCU Lady Canons’ best players over the past two seasons culminating into a strong regular season performance. They start the playoffs as top seeds ensuring that one of UCU or KCCA will be missing from the finals for the first time ages.

NBL

Women
A1 Challenge vs Nkumba Ladies
KCCA vs. Angels
Lady Canons vs. KIU angers
UMU vs. JKL Ladies
Men
Betway Power vs. Ndejje University
City Oilers vs. Sharing Youth
KIU Titans vs. UCU Canons
Warriors vs. JKL

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