How UCU Lady Canons defied odds to win eighth championship

UCU Lady Canons celebrate winning the Tusker Lite National Basketball League title. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

By the time the National Basketball League Finals started, Lady Dolphins had not lost a single game this season. They had won 23 games in a row and were overwhelming favourites for the championship against a Lady Canons side that had lost the two regular season meetings.


Millicent Otieno shot six of 13 from downtown on her way to a game high 28 points as the UCU Lady Canons defeated JKL Lady Dolphins 75-67 in Game Seven of the National Basketball League Finals Friday night at Lugogo Indoor Stadium.

Rose Akon added 22 points and 29 rebounds as the university side completed their comeback to win the series 4-3 and lift the championship.

It was a dream start for the Lady Canons inside a stadium filled beyond its capacity. An early 18-03 run for the Lady Canons set the pace and the difference remained 20 points after the first half.

That big lead was a big hole for JKL and despite a second half charge, there was no coming back and the Lady Canons held on to win the team’s eighth championship in 13 seasons. The victory saw the side take home 5m from lead sponsor Tusker Lite.

JKL collapse

By the time the National Basketball League Finals started, Lady Dolphins had not lost a single game this season. They had won 23 games in a row and were overwhelming favourites for the championship against a Lady Canons side that had lost the two regular season meetings.

The university side had also lost to Angels in the first round of the regular season and fell to Magic Stormers in the first game of the quarterfinals before bouncing back to win Games Two and Three.

And the start to the series for JKL was perfect. Henry Malinga’s charges won the first two games with relative ease as their quality and experience got the better of their challengers.

The two-time champions took Game One 60-50 to take the lead in the series and the lead grew to 2-0 after another win for JKL, 60-52 and the Lady Canons needed to respond to avoid going down 3-1.

And they did by winning Game Three 67-62 to hand JKL their first loss of the year. The question the was, how do the Lady Dolphins after their first loss of the season? But when you have players like Flavia Okecho, Ritah Imanishimwe, Hope Akello and Brenda Ekone on your side, most of the work is done. And JKL re-gained their 2-0 cushion with a 59-50 win in Game Four to lead the series 3-1 and close in on yet another championship.

Wake up Lady Canons

At 1-3, the Lady Canons looked beaten and JKL were in a good place. UCU needed to win all the three remaining games and JKL only needed one to end the season with celebrations.

Akon and Otieno led the charge for Nicholas Natuhereza’s troops as they won Game Five 62-48 to stay alive in the series. Momentum was with UCU going into Game Six and led to another win, 69-57 to force a Game Seven.

The Lady Dolphins were in trouble. Akon and Otieno were delivering the goods for UCU and Bridget Aber had stepped up for 15 points in Game Six. Even without starting point guard Shakirah Nanvubya, Maimuna Nabbosa and Agatha Kamwada accounted for their minutes.

Aziida Nabayunga also gave the side big minutes off the bench when either Akon or Aber had to step off. The Lady Canons did a great job of limiting the scoring machine in Ekone and that took a lot away from the JKL offense and the job was done.

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