By Charles Mutebi
BERNARD Okumu has one message for everyone questioning why he won the biggest individual award in Ugandan basketball from the 2013 season.
“I deserved to be MVP,” Vegetarian’s Okumu told New Vision Sport in a stern interview.
“I outscored everyone and I out-rebounded everyone in the regular season so I deserved it. From the beginning of the season, I played hard but if you look at Omony (Stephen), Jimmy (Enabu) or Kami (Kabange), none of them was available or consistent throughout the regular season”.
Several observers were shocked by FUBA’s decision, wondering how Okumu could come ahead of someone like City Oil’s Kabange, who lit up the NBL with his hi-tech game. Or Enabu, whose displays had both efficiency and the wow-factor.
A league best 340
Okumu grabbed a league-best 340 points and 214 rebounds - an average of 15 points and 9.7 rebounds per game - to help Vegetarian survive relegation from the men’s National Basketball League. Still, Vegetarian won just five of 22 league games to finish 10th out of 12 teams but FUBA’s technical committee felt - like Okumu - that his team’s poor record should not deny him the MVP honour.
“The MVP award is an individual award and the statistics are clear,” argued Okumu. “Yes Vegetarian won five games but may be without me they would have won zero and would be relegated.”
National team beckons
Okumu has never been called up to the national team, even just for trials, but the MVP award suggests he should. Does the forward agree?
“Yes I should,” he responded. “The problem is that some people think the national team belongs to a certain a group of players, who have been on it for a long time”.
Whatever people may say about Okumu and his new found MVP status, one thing is certain. He is not apologetic for it. In fact, the former D’Mark Power player is almost cocky about it and that confidence is perhaps the most common denominator among special players.