The National Basketball League finally tips off on April 17. The regular season is on until June 5 2021. Whether FUBA and clubs are ready for this compact marathon, will be seen in the due course.
Surprisingly, the much awaited NBL season has tipped off without a press launch, but its the new normal anyway.
What are the five things to look out for?
New Format – But No Relegation!
The season has been shortened, that you face a team once, not twice as it has been in the previous regular seasons.
There are ten men and eight women teams that will take part after two from each division pulled out. Warriors and Sharing Youth pulled out in Men while A1 Challenge and UMU Ravens are not competing this year due to Covid19 related effects.
Men – Nam Blazers, Falcons, City Oilers, UPDF Tomahawks, UCU Canons, Betway Power, KIU Titans, KCCA Panthers, JKL Dolphins, Ndejje Angels.
Women – Nabisunsa Girls, Magic Stormers, UCU Lady Canons, Nkumba Lady Marines, JKL Lady Dolphins, KIU Rangers, Angels, KCCA Leopards.
The top eight teams in each division will reach playoffs. But no relegation this time round for the teams that are taking part. FUBA discussed this at length but no conclusion was reached. However, the teams that pulled out (Men – Warriors, Sharing Youth. Women – UMU and A1) are automatically relegated.
Healthy Protocols – Can Player Testing be sustained?
All participating teams must have their players tested for Covid19 before tip off. This has to be applied every after two weeks.
The players were tested on Thursday and Friday at the MTN indoor Arena and FUBA has taken care of costs. Its not known who will incur the charges (whether the clubs or FUBA) for the next bunch of tests and what protocols will be followed if a team bring out several positive cases. Will they lose the game by forfeiture? Will they reschedule the fixture?
Can FUBA Keep Out Fans?
Due to Covid19, Government asked Federations to resume Sports with no fans, and it’s going to be the first time in NBL history that the games are played behind closed doors.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Federation will put the right measures in place to close out fans given that the games will be hosted outside courts – KIU and UCU. The two Universities already have students at the venues, as it was evidenced in the last friendlies held at the premises recently. It was easier to monitor or close out fans at MTN Indoor Arena or at the YMCA.
Most of the games will be broadcast live on social media Pages and Fubalive.com.
Player Fitness Levels
It has been over a year since the players played competitive basketball. To be specific, the National Basketball League was called off before tip off last year in March due to Covid19.
With gyms and other training facilities out of bounds during the lockdown, it compromised players fitness levels.
Most teams have just resumed training and the readiness of the players in terms of fitness remains to be a big challenge.
Injuries and below par performances are expected to dominate in the early stages of the season.
Which New Player To Look Out For?
There are many new signings who are expected to set the league on fire.
And we want to focus on those who are new in the league or those making a return after missing out a season before.
KCCA Leopards small forward Claire Lamunu returns since leaving for United States in 2014, the same year she was crowned the league’s MVP and helped KCCA win the league.
JKL Dolphins have John Balwigire. Betway Power have Stephen Wundi. JKL Dolphins added Somalia’s Faisal Aden while City Oilers brought in Michael Makiadi.
Special mention goes to City Oilers as well who will have youngster Ghedi Abdihakim, a son of club manager Hajji Mohammed Santur.
In addition, Nam Blazers called Julius Lutwama back from retirement. He returns to competitive playing after some good seasons as a coach! This should be interesting.
Let the games begin.