Mondays are normally slow as the working week gets underway. But when six-time National Basketball League champions Falcons face UPDF Tomahawks tonight at the YMCA courts in Wandegeya, the game will be nothing like Mondays.
It should be frenetic. Falcons and UPDF are locked in a tug of war; a direct shoot-out. However, unlike the usual sports rhetoric, that it is just a game, this time it is different. It is judgement day, where winner takes all, and the loser will be vanquished to the second division.
UPDF coach Baker Kyambadde emphasized that this was no ordinary tie: “It is a great challenge. But we have to face it with our heads up to face the enemy in a respectful manner.” Kyambadde said that they have no option, but to come to the party.
It is the first time UPDF find themselves in a life- and-death situation, where they must win in order to remain in the top league. And they have to rise to the occasion because all the efforts of their season are riding on how well they play this one tie.
Inevitably, the pressure is mounting on both sides. Falcons’ Douglas Uwizera said it is such games, that every player wants to be a part of, because of their historic nature.
“It is our cup final. And after losing to JKL Dolphins and Our Saviour in succession last week, we must respond in this last game, because it is all that matters,” Uwizera said.
Going by the form of both sides, UPDF is in better standing, especially after beating Our Saviour, who thereafter beat Falcons. But Uwizera does not want to look at it that way, because every game is different.
He added that considering the nature of the one tonight, where it is make or break for anyone, the spirit on the day is telling.
However, Falcons go into this tie with UPDF a bit short on numbers. They have eight fit players against 12 for UPDF.
Such a statistic is important because it allows the team with a bigger number of players have options to vary their game.
In addition, Falcons will be sweating to ensure that their point-guard Vinnie Jurua passes a late fitness test, following a calf muscle strain he suffered recently.
Yet, for UPDF, they feel confident that with their key men available, Moses Muhumuza and Felix Mukunzi, they are good to go in the race to survive relegation for Falcons and UPDF.
Nkumba v JKL
Falcons v UPDF
Marines v Oilers
Canons v Sharing