The biggest local basketball derby is around the corner as the Rwanda Energy Group (REG) faces off with The Patriots in the finals of the season’s playoffs. The best-of-five finals will get underway on Wednesday, September 7, and end on September 16, at the BK Arena. Here, Times Sports looks at three things that may determine who walks away with this season’s trophy. 1. Coaches’ tactics In tightly contested games such as the tie between REG and Patriots, the tactics of the coaches play an important role in determining who wins. REG is coached by the experienced Henry Mwinuka, a Tanzanian tactician who has handled teams from his country and in Rwanda. On the other hand, Bernard Oluoch, a Kenyan coach is at the helm of The Patriots as they go for this season’s trophy. Mwinuka and Oluoch previously worked as assistants to great coaches, something that arguably sharpened their tactics. Mwinuka worked under Robert Pack and Cheikh Sarr at REG and the Rwanda national team respectively, while Oluoch served under Alan Major at Patriots during the first edition of the Basketball Africa League. Besides the experience, there are a number of other things that may make a difference as REG and The Patriots renew their rivalry in the finals. These include how the coaches and their technical staff scouted the opponent ahead of the game, and the measures put in place to counter the threats the opponent poses. The technical benches of both teams will need to look for ways to maximise the strengths of their best players, exploit the opponent’s weaknesses, and be quick enough to maneuver during the game in case plan A does not work. The coach who does their work well will give their team a huge chance of coming out on top at the end of the day. 2. Injuries As the five matches that make up the best-of-five series finals unfold, some players may, unfortunately, pick up injuries. REG and Patriots have very good players going into the finals. But there is no assurance that all of them will be fit until the five games are done. An example of how injuries affect teams’ plans is when point guard Adonis Filer got injured when REG was about to play the quarterfinals of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in May. His unexpected injury weakened the team in no small way. Times Sport is not certain about the current injuries in the squads of REG and Patriots. But, surely, the fitness of the squads will play a role in determining where the trophy goes. 3. Performance of new boys The two teams did a great job in terms of recruiting new players before the playoffs started. REG brought back Cleveland Thomas Junior and Adonis Filer – the two American guards that featured for them during this year’s Basketball Africa League (BAL) and played a big role as the team advanced to the quarterfinals. The Patriots hired Chris Crawford, an experienced American point guard and Kendall Gray, an American center with incredible defence skills. How the new players step up to make a mark will be important in lifting their respective teams to the top during the finals. In addition to this, the coaches should have made an effort to look for ways of making the new additions blend in. When the curtain falls on this year’s league later this month, basketball fans in the country will know who the champion is. There is a lot at stake since the winner gets the chance to represent Rwanda in the BAL, a prestigious NBA-sponsored competition that takes place every year.