JKL Dolphins captain Brian Namake has revealed his delight of winning the UCU Invitational tournament but added that its now history, and their focus has been set on league success.
JKL Dolphins, just like the sister team JKL Lady Dolphins, are the 2019 ninth edition of the UCU Invitational after clinching the trophy on Sunday.
The Dolphins, after making light work of their group, eliminated Pemba Warriors 44-57 on the semis before beating Betway Power 50-46 in a close final.
Reflecting on how they managed to take everyone by storm, Namake exclusively told SportsNation that they played as a team.
“The tournament was hard but what i believe it helped us most was the aspects of team and heart. We stood by each others’ mistakes and we played for each other. It was unique in that the coach and the players were one and that is what helped us.”
“We are aware the league is a bumpy road and that is why the win in ucu is gone, it was awesome we won but that we have to put it behind us because it has just set the bar high for us so we cannot play the same way in the league.
“We have to elevate and on that I trust my coach to prepare the team appropriately. He did it well for UCU tournament so I know he will do the same for the league.”
Namake was the beating heart of JKL last season – He scored 362 points, an achievement which was only bettered by Betway Power’s Geoffrey Soro (393) and City Oilers’ Landry Ndikumana (442).
His 100 assists tally was only surpassed by Betway Power’s Joseph Ikong who made 112. Namake also 71 steals, the best in the league.
Commenting on how he plans to build on those impressive stats this year, he added:
“My teammates expectations are what I mind and this year I really want to be more of a pusher I feel am good at that than any other thing.
“Hopefully me playing the role of pushing people to play their best we might add on from where we stopped last year which was semi finals and be in the finals.”
JKL, together with Power, KIU Titans and Pemba Warriors will be in race to dethrone City Oilers who have won six titles on a trot.
The Dolphins may still be far from being a championship team but the victory on Sunday at UCU has not only put the team in pole position this year but also added on their confidence.
JKL has added Bernard Okumu from UPDF, Joseph Wacha and Daniel ‘Dudus’ Manoja both from Our Saviour to boost up the squad.
Commenting on the signings and the load ahead, Namake said:
“Am happy with the signings, they have added value to us but basketball is never won on paper its on court therefore the heart and teamwork is what shall be worked on so that it grows and with that we shall be ready to face anyone to ensure the W is in our favour.”
JKL, who were eliminated by Betway Power in last year’s Semifinals best of five playoffs, will start their National Basketball League quest with a tricky tie against Our Saviour on Sunday, April 14 before facing KCCA Men and Kampala University the following week.