Basketball

Champions Oilers face old nemeses Canons

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Kabange (R) tries to block UCU’s Brian Namake last season. PHOTO by Ismail Kezaala 

By ISMAIL DHAKABA KIGONGO

Posted  Friday, April 25  2014 at  10:27
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KAMPALA.
You can hardly find anything that went wrong with City Oilers’ season simply because history is written by the victors of battle.
Now champions, everything that Oilers went through to win the Airtel National Basketball League in their debut season last year was only a footnote in an enthralling journey.

If there were two games in which Oilers looked like pretenders and not contenders last season, they came against perennial semifinalists UCU Canons. UCU and Oilers served mundane games, both won by the former, including a 79-59 result that compelled coach Mandy Juruni into the conclusion; “we were bad.”

Juruni has repeatedly said they have a better roster this time having signed two-time MVP Ben Komakech (Tiger Head Power) and Geoff Omondi (Falcons).

They also retained ‘big man’ Kami Kabange, who averaged 18.4 points and 10.5 rebounds in the seven-game 4-3 final series victory over Falcons.
“We need to improve defensively. Our offense was great but not the defence,” Juruni, a champion in three of the last four years, said.

Kabange was meant to move to Qatar but the deal fell through. His situation though shouldn’t unstettle Oilers. UCU seek the same comforts from having played in the university games and ongoing university league so have been active.

Also, UCU beat Oilers 77-65 last month to lift their own UCU Invitational Open. Sudi Ulanga remains the same as his 23 points then showed.
But questions will be about how they cope without centre Desmond Owili, currently waiting for a ruling of an appeal on his one-year ban.

Coach Nicholas Natuhereza’s back court is weaker with the exit of Syrus Kiviiri and Sunday Okot who have since moved to Falcons.
However, never fault their competitive spirit.

In the early game, women’s champions UCU Lady Canons open their defence against KIU Rangers, whose guard Judith Ayo joined the former who lost centre Peace Proscovia to KCCA Leopards.
today at ymca
M: Oilers vs. UCU (8.30pm)
W: UCU vs. KIU (6.30pm)