By Richard Wetaya
Few players in the Ugandan Basketball league possess as cracking a handle and as lethal a clutch shot as Sudi Ulanga, the KIU Titans shooting guard.
The Tanzanian’s yo-yo handles have long become a byword for breaking opponent’s ankles, metaphorically that is.
With the Friday Night Lights season kicking off this Friday, basketball fans are on the giddy up, waiting with bated breath to stand a treat of Ulanga’s exciting skill set.
With Jimmy Enabu and Joseph Ikong on national duty, FNL fans will look up to Ulanga, to provide the sparks and highlight reels.
Ulanga has quite an impressive pedigree in the National League.
Between the years 2012-2014, he was the most dominant scoring force in the league.
At that time; Ulanga was turning out for the UCU Canons; the most exciting team in the league then.
In tandem with the dunking machine, Desmond Owili, Brian Namake and Ivan Lumanyika- the Ulanga led Canons were a real force to be reckoned with.
His creativity, shot making abilities, dropping of dimes (making assists) and consistent buccaneering play made him an arch nemesis for opposing teams, not only in Uganda, but regionally.
Season in, season out; Ulanga put in performances that set him apart from the rest. In most games, he averaged 20+ points, a feat few players in the league, manage.
Having curved out that pedigree; it came as no surprise when he was named the 2014 regular season MVP.
In his 4 seasons at UCU, Ulanga carved out a place for himself in the University’s basketball hall of fame. He literally carried the team on his back; making
them title contenders and himself; the most electrifying player in the league.
At the start of the 2014 season, he provided another imperious career highlight, dropping a game high 30 points and 7 rebounds on the City Oilers, who were then the champions.
At length, Ulanga did not lead the Canons to the National league title, but he helped build the team’s brand and establish it as an elite force in the league.
The Canons only lost by a hairs breath, at the two to three penultimate and final stage appearances the team made, when Ulanga was at his most dominant.
The national league quarter final playoffs of 2015 provided one of Ulanga’s other standout highlights. By that time, Ulanga, who has become a rolling stone of sorts, had long left the Canons. He was turning out for Power.
His repertoire of skills were on full display in game 3 of the series. He showed off his offensive mettle, dropping a whopping 41 points on the Star Times Falcons.
That game went to double overtime, and at length, Power, emerged triumphant winning the series 2-1.
To thwart the sharp shooting Ulanga, opposing teams often played double or triple teams on him. But even when Ulanga was in the opposing team’s cross hairs, he still showed; he was top of the range, feeding off pick and rolls to hit clutch threes.
If he was not shooting from beyond the arc, he made emphatic drives to the hoop.
When Ulanga was passed the rock (a basketball) in open space, whey faced opposing defenses pushed the panic button.
Ulanga’s first team in Uganda, were the Falcons. He played with them in 2014.
He moved to the UCU Canons after his stint with the Falcons.
In 2015, Ulanga moved to Tiger head Power and a year later, he joined the KIU Titans, his current team.
He was an integral part of the KIU Titans juggernaut that went 5 months unbeaten in the league last year. He however is still chasing his first league title.
At Power, Ulanga did not seem to be at peace. Though he is not the type to lay bare his feelings, Ulanga was evidently unnerved at Power and it did affect his performances.
Ulanga got his mojo back upon signing with the KIU Titans in 2016.
He played a big part in the amazing run that the Titans enjoyed that year.
Ulanga regards the NBL as the best league in the region and as such, he feels obligated to hone his skills, on a day in, day out basis.
As early as 5:30, he is up and jogging. He then does individual ball work for 2 hours before joining his Titans team mates for practice.
During his individual training, he shots the rock for over an hour and a half.
“I believe a player can only be able to perform when he is well prepared,” Ulanga opines.
Social life and hooking a Ugandan lass
Anybody who has scrapped acquaintances with Ulanga speaks golden of his good naturedness. It is a virtue that has endeared him to many, not only in player’s circles, but for good measure, to members of the fairer sex.
It came as no surprise 2 years ago when he got engaged to a gorgeous Ugandan lass- Sandra Munduru.
The pair met in 2010 when Ulanga was playing for the Falcons.
Incidentally, Munduru was also a Ball player, turning out for the A-1 Challenge.
Munduru introduced Ulanga to her parents last year in Arua. The Pair have a child together and their wedding is slated for this year.
Born and bred in Dar es Salam, Ulanga was ushered into Ugandan basketball by the late legendary Kenyan coach Smatts Olumbo.
Before coming to Uganda, Ulanga had played with his home team, the Sinza Warriors (2004-2006), Savio Basketball club (2006-2008) and later Vijana City Bulls (2008/9).
He won the Tanzanian national league twice; first with Savio (2008) and later with Vijana, where he was the top scorer.
Before his Tanzanian national league accomplishments, Ulanga had made his mark in Kenya in the high school basketball championships.
He won the Kenyan national high school championships with Laser Hill academy 4 times. He joined Laser Hill Academy on a scholarship.
Ulanga was introduced to the game of basketball around 2000 by his elder brother, who by then was playing professional basketball.