UCU Canons escape relegation scare

By Dismas Nuwaine

Uganda Christian University (UCU) Canons defeated the KCCA Panthers 79 to 69 in Wednesday’s pulsating encounter at the YMCA complex in Wandegeya, averting an apocalyptic conclusion to their bumpy ride in the 2023 regular season National Basketball League.

This means that the Mukono-based side has survived relegation, which would have seen them pushed to the second tier of the Basketball League and interrupted their 17-year-old stay in the country’s elite league.

Andrew Malenga, the assistant sports administrator at the university, partly credits the Canons’ bothersome season to the unchecked outflow of their most senior players.

“This is a competitive league, according to my assessment, and UCU is acting as an academy for the big teams. We shape players, and the big teams whisk them off”, asserted Malenga. “This time we lost almost all the experienced players, and we started with about three experienced players out of the fourteen players on the team”, he added.

Faced with this relegation monster, the Canons had to be at their absolute best, and they surely found the rhythm amidst the intense fanfare.

“The game was well played; the boys knew what they wanted, and it was very clear that if they lost, they would be grappling with relegation”, said Andrew Malenga, the sports assistant administrator at UCU. “We’ve always been a playoff team; it was going to be something very unfortunate for us to be relegated”, continued Malenga, assuring

The Canons started slowly, conceding several points in succession, but gradually grew in the game to end the first quarter three points down, 27-24.

At the stroke of halftime, the umpire signalled the end of the game as the Canons were leading the Panthers by six points, 41 to 47.

This turnaround boosted the morale at the arena while increasing the stakes, setting the pace for a scintillating second half of the game.

Through the entirety of the second half, the Canons looked unbeatable as they were cheered on all the way by their impassioned fans and close to the entirety of the Students Guild.

Peter Sifuma registered a double-double of 20 points and 20 rebounds to lead the Lads, while John Baptist Dauna added 15 points and seven rebounds.

Point guard Jimmy Otim thrilled the fans with his tease and touch flair, contributing 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists.

This victory means that the Canons have finished 6th and will brace themselves for a high-stakes match against the Powers team in the playoffs.

Notably, the Lady Cardinals also emerged victorious in the first game of the night against the Nkumba Lady Marines, whom they thumped 59-48.