BY FRED HIDULA
Regarded as underdogs by analysts despite being reigning champions, the Lady Canons again showed that the virtue of teamwork can supersede that of individual quality.
The Lady Canons are now the champions of the National Basketball League (NBL) having lifted the cup in 2016 after defeating KCCA Leopards 66-61.
During the match, Ritah Imanishimwe led with a team high 16 points while Vilma Achieng added 13 and nine rebounds and Judith Nansobya added 10 for the Lady Canons, winning the series 4-3 against (KCCA) Leopards.
In a rollercoaster series, Nick Natuhereza’s side took a 2-0 lead before losing three straight games.
Many, however, remember a time in game six when with seven seconds left, Flavia Oketcho changed Coach Timothy Odeke’s final play and opted to shoot rather than pass to former Lady Canon’s player Maureen Amoding.
The KCCA Leopards never recovered being outplayed in overtime for a 78-75 game six loss.
The defeat seemed to set the tone for the decider at the Lugogo MTN Arena on December 15 with their opponents banking on the win for a 66-61 triumph and back to back titles.
Natuhereza then counting on the momentum generated from levelling the series rallied his troops for a 34-21 lead at the half-way point.
“We persevered even when the series seemed not to be going our way,” he told scribes.
“It was a team effort. It is difficult to choose an outstanding player in the series,” Natuhereza added while singling out Nansobya, Imanishimwe and Sarah Ageno.
“One game it was Nansobya, Imanishimwe and Ageno, but the team did well as a group,” he said.
In congratulating his opponents, KCCA’s Timothy Odeke blamed his team’s lack of cohesion and athleticism.
“They were athletic and caught us on transition which was their advantage. Our experience didn’t count,” he said in summing up his team’s performance on the day.
Martha Soigi led with 17 points and 11 rebounds, Muhayimina Namuwaya added 15 and 16 boards.
KCCA were then forced into rushed shots despite clawing a 20- point deficit and leading half- way through the final period.
The Lady Canons have now won the title six times since the competition was started way back in 1998.