By Isaac Akugizibwe
KIU, Main Campus-Both KIU Titans and Rangers are still on the hunt for the very first national basketball league title and have been knocking at the door at least in the last five or so seasons but in vain.
The Titans face Power basketball club tonight in the first of the best of three quarterfinals play-off series at the MTN Arena in Lugogo, a tie that neither side can not afford to let go. For KIU Titans, everything begins tonight if history is to be made this season.
Raymond Muhumuza and Julius Lutwama's Titans went unbeaten in July, winning all their six fixtures including beating serial winners City Oilers and tonight's opponents, Power with very impressive displays and scores.
This performance saw the Titans finish fourth in the regular season but the main impact was a gradual boost of confidence in the green camp. Many bookmakers had started rubbing KIU from the contenders' list by mid-season but by the time the league concluded, the Titans had regained their space on the big boys' table.
Should they reminisce about the July display starting tonight, the Titans will only need a choir to assist in getting together, the lyrics of "it is coming to Kansanga" and surely they will give the dictatorial big boys a huge run for their money.
Talking to NBS sport earlier in the week, KIU Titans captain, Joseph Dramaza said that everything about the quarter-finals must be concluded on Sunday.
"We have to beat Power on Friday and again on Sunday, then we can wait for whoever comes through on the semifinal stage," he noted.
Dramaza's statement represents the positive mood that has been on a gradual rise in the last two months and it is only complementary to Henry Okoth's poise at the beginning of July that each game would be a final, something they have fulfilled ever since beating almost every potential finalist with commanding authority.
Before July, KIU Titans' chances of winning games depended on the form of either Ahmed Kassa or the sensational Edgar Munaba but that changed going to the determinant month of July where the team became a unit with the players giving their best for the good of the team.
This saw the emergency of players like Joseph Chuma, Michael Otieno Fidel Okoth Odour, Isaiah Mabeny Ater and Henry Kisseka who stood up in times when Kassa and Edgar were played out by opponents or having bad days on duty. This made the Titans unbeatable at the end of the regular season.
Kenyan strong man Fidel Okoth Odour has by far been the team's most outstanding player in the second round, averaging 16.4 points and 11 rebounds in the seven games he has so far played for the Kansanga outfit.
Edgar Munaba, now averaging 12.6 points and 13 rebounds in his debut season are by far the league's breakthrough player while Ahmed Kassa and Isaiah Mabeny Ater are among NBL'S top shooters, each averaging 13.4 points in the regular season.
And when every player on the court is capable of winning a game, such a team becomes tricky to overcome. That's the KIU Titans in recent days. This team has had its fans regain hope and serious mobilisation is underway to have at least half of Kansanga painted green. It is also understood, that the KIU Titans fans have been discussing how to help the team end the long wait.
The chances of KIU Titans ending the long wait will be highly rated on their performance tonight and if the game goes their way, they will only need another Victory on Sunday after which they will need four wins, two from the semifinals and two in the finals to be declared champions that is if all the playoffs are to be in the best of three formats.
However, Bernis Ankuda's boys are not a team to take for granted having beaten the Titans 58-55 in the first round before falling to a 77-65 defeat in the second round of the regular season. They have their hopes in stars, Isaac Afidra, Geoffrey Soro, Dickson Asiku, and Innocent Ochera and will seek to correct their defensive problems in a bid for Glory tonight.
Despite being the most supported team in NBL, Power last became champions in 2011 and will surely look to end that long wait this season, something that KIU Titans won't be willing to see happen.