Joseph Ikong has a central role at Betway Power. The changes at Power over the few seasons have left the offense built around and for him.
In recent years, the five-time champions lost Norman Blick, Ben Komakech and Isaac Afidra, who share seven Most Valuable Player (MVP) titles. They re-signed the latter last season. That has left Ikong as the go-to man. As Power sought to add to their title-count last year, he adopted an even bigger role, assuming ball carrying duties as the primary facilitator.
It didn’t free him from his scoring, defensive and leadership responsibilities.
Never had Ikong taken the same tasks for the national men’s basketball team, the Silverbacks, until this week’s Fiba Africa Zone V Championship in Cairo, Egypt.
The 6ft 4in guard/forward has altered the hierarchy of roles that has forced coach Mandy Juruni to allow him play the most minutes as Silverbacks cruised into the semifinals.
In Uganda’s 94-72 victory over Somalia, Ikong played 34 minutes and 40 seconds worth 11 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals. The double-digit score came on a 50% shooting.
It wasn’t a one-off. Another eight-points, seven-rebound and five-assist came in the 99-54 rout of Burundi. It effectively buried the 2011 heartache in Kigali, Rwanda when Uganda squandered a 30-point lead to lose to Burundi at the Zone V.