By Isaac Akugizibwe
KIU Main Campus - KIU will wait for the 2023 NBL season to try to win the National Basketball league trophy as both the Titans and KIU Rangers have been eliminated from this year's contest by Nam Blazers and UCU lady Canons respectively.
Though they attempted a comeback after losing game one, KIU Titans were eventually outwitted by debutants and arch-rivals Namuwongo Blazers who capitalized on poor decisions and pressure in the green camp to claim games three and four with some humiliating margins.
Despite giving their best, KIU Rangers were outplayed by UCU Lady Canons who progressed with a 3-0 aggregate from the best of five semifinal Playoffs series to make up a final clash with the invisible JKL lady Dolphins.
One thing that was vividly clear is that both the boys and girls really wanted to win and indeed, they gave it all their best but the opponents proved superior in some aspects and played their cards better than the green half of NBL.
Losing in the semifinals, though a big achievement given the competition this season was heartbreaking for both the Titans and Rangers and this could be seen on players' and fans' faces. Very hard to take.
"We Want to take this opportunity to thank you for the love, the support, and the zeal plus time you have given while walking with us, together through this beautiful season journey. It breaks my heart seeing ourselves out at this stage (semi-finals), it feels like we have disappointed you all," Ahmed Kassa wrote to the fans.
"I pray and believe we gonna bounce back strong and hard next season. We appreciate all the times you have given us," he added.
Kassa's message appeared to calm and comfort the KIU fans who left the YMCA court very disappointed and somewhat discouraged. Many believe the Titans should have done better especially after taking a lead in the first quarter of game four.
KIU Titans Coach Raymond Muhumuza conceded to the blazers and blamed his teams elimination on failure to take care of the ball and poor defending.
"First and foremost congratulations to the Blazers. We did not take care of the ball. We had so many Turnovers. Defensively we failed to stop their runs and gave up some easy points in transition," Muhumuza said.
"Generally we really needed to improve in these areas and also convert on our free throws, he added.
When asked about amendments for next season, Muhumuza said, "it is too early to speak about next season but definitely the Titans will be Better."
We thank all our fans for their unwavering support. I am proud to say that we have the best fans in the league, they surely deserved more.
KIU Rangers fought for everything but could not stop Akon
The ladies in green did everything possible to stop UCU Canons but we're left without a remedy for the ruthless Rose Akon menace. She was completely unmatched by the Rangers from game one and her flawless abilities in rebounding were on display all through.
"Congratulations to UCU girls and the coaching staff. The girl's mental toughness was excellent and they fought for everything. They were also patient with their set plays most especially offensively," Roger Serunyigo, KIU Rangers coach said in a post-match interview.
"Akon Rose couldn’t be stopped in all the series mainly in her thriving rebounding qualities, non of the Rangers could match up with her. In addition, her scoring couldn’t be stopped as most of her points came off offensive rebounds," Serunyigo acknowledged.
"The Rangers played a much better game two than one and three," he added.
On moving forward, Serunyigo said that "KIU Ranger as a club needs frontcourt players in general."
"This will tell with time as the team rebuilds with whichever coaching or management staff it will have in place by the 2023 season. It is too early to tell. Some players or coaches may leave.," he noted.
"Rangers need to keep building, they were never a deadly team to prepare for and have now become famous for very good basketball," he testified.
Mr. Serunyigo has however asked KIU fans not to give up to soon but keep with the teams.
"There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t give up on the team. Hard luck!" he said.