Okiasi sees Ndejje Angels upsetting the bookmakers
Posted Sunday, November 3 2013 at 00:00
The small forward’s experience will matter when they face Warriors in Game One of the Castle Lite NBL play-off quarterfinals today. It will also be Okiasi’s first play-offs against a Warriors side he won two championships with.
For those who know him, Stephen Okiasi is one jolly man. Of course like any human he has his offs.
But at normal service, he will either be laughing or smiling. Or both. After sustained stanzas of deep and punctuated laughter, Okiasi composes himself to respond to the happiness inquest.
“Thing is I love playing pranks,” says the Ndejje Angels small forward, of course amid more laughter, “I love having a good time, I love having a good laugh.
“But yes, I get serious. It’s just that whenever I see something funny, I will smile, or laugh. At times some of the guys I coach (he does bit coaching at Seeta High, Vienna, and Namilyango College) think I’m joking when I tell them to run 100 laps.”
Okiasi, 32, will hope to laugh through the three-game series and later on onto the title, which – if clinched – would be his third having claimed his first two with Warriors in 2009 and last year.
That journey starts today when Ndejje and Riham Warriors square off in Game One of the quarterfinals at the MTN Arena in Lugogo.
He so much believes in coach Walker Obedi’s team, who finished sixth in regular season, that he is giving them a chance at the championship.
“We have a very big attempt this time,” says Okiasi, “We really have so many guys putting in the points.
“So, you want to take that advantage of being in the play-offs. You are not certain that next year you will have it again.
“And yes we can win the championship,” he adds, his confidence and authority engulfing the environs of a town restaurant we had just devoured breakfast from.
“I’m 100 per cent sure, we have the potential. We have shown by beating the big teams, and even in our defeats we pushed them to the wire.” Ndejje beat giants DMark Power, UCU, Falcons and Warriors in regular season.
“Every team has its weaknesses and ours is lack of collective experience at this level,” expounds Okiasi, “Okay we have some experience in Francis Tumusiime, Brian Ssentongo (league winner), but the core of the team - Jonah Otim, Brian Odoch… these are guys with energy to burn but not much experience.
“But sometimes you can make your weakness your strength. The guys with experience don’t have that energy but we have the boys with the energy. So we have to balance the energy and experience and build on our strong points.”
In his quest to lead Ndejje to glory, however, Okiasi will be derailing his former team’s chances, a team he started his career at and one he played for a decade.
“That’s sports,” he says, “Of course you always have emotions playing against a team that you shared so much with - the losing, frustrations, and when the wins came you had a sigh of relief that ‘we worked so hard and achieved this.’