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Power, Oilers tip off best-of-seven hoops series

When the Fuba national basketball league playoffs finals get underway this Friday at the MTN arena in Lugogo, Betway Power will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2014 finals.

Then coached by Bernes Ankunda, Power were swept 4-0 by City Oilers as Mandy Juruni’s charges lifted their second championship on second attempt.

“There isn’t going to be any sweep, that I can assure you,” Power captain Joseph Ikong revealed after the team made the finals in November.

While Oilers are odds-on favourites, the five-time champions are expected to put up a much better challenge than they managed two years ago.

“We have a small team that is disciplined and willing to fight and we know we have a chance,” Ikong said ahead of the finals.

Ikong’s coach, Arnold Lando, echoes the same optimism as the team prepares for a huge mountain to climb starting Friday.

“We believe in ourselves and we go into the finals with a chance to win the championship,” the Kenyan tactician said on Tuesday.

For a team that played the entire season with nine players, Power defied the odds by defeating the hyped KIU Titans in the semis to make their fourth final in six years.

It is the experience of forwards Isaac Afidra, Michael Kojjo, Paul Mwaka and the inspirational captain Ikong that pushed the side through the long regular season and eventually to the finals.

The lack of funds at the club saw head coach Brian Wathum leave the side to concentrate on his day job while guard Richard Balemwa also took a sabbatical for the same reason. The side has since received a boost from Betway who came on board during the playoffs.

“We shall work with the players available,” Lando revealed when asked about how to take on Oilers with a thin squad of seven active players.
Power have been at the wrong end of results every time they faced Oilers in any series.

Oilers defeated Power 3-1 in the 2013 semifinals the white washed them 4-0 in the 2014 finals, in 2015 Oilers run over them 3-1 in the semis.

The three-time champions, who are chasing a four-peat have played the most number of games this season having played the UCU and KIU invitational tournaments, the regular season, playoffs, Zone V Clubs Championship in Dar es Salaam and the Fiba Club Champions Cup recently in Cairo.

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