City Oilers’ Enabu reckons play-offs only not enough
Posted Monday, October 21 2013 at 01:00
Kampala- For a team making their Division One basketball debut, City Oil will have been impressed with making this season’s Airtel National Basketball League play-offs.
And for an outfit that were in Division Three two years ago, their successive promotions to topflight business will have been vindicated by their performance thus far, standing at 14-6 by press time.
They were odds-on favourites to improve that record to 15-6 as they played Charging Rhino last night.
Their final regular season game is against champions Riham Warriors - themselves at 15-6 - tomorrow before play-offs take tip off Friday.
Speaking with one of Oiler’s officials - Silver Rugambwa, this season was mainly to make play-offs and perhaps push it as far as they can get, and then return with a real push for their first league title next campaign.
But for Oiler’s guard Jimmy Enabu, the hunger for his second league title – the first coming while at DMark Power in 2011 – cannot allow him to settle for just making play-offs. He also knows winning the title in a debut season will be the greatest ever upset in Uganda’s basketball history.
Dressed in his green kit as he prepared to get shooting at the Makerere University pool side court, where several players were doing a Sprite basketball exhibition to develop the sport further, Jimmy – whose basketball family reads, Maurice Denis, Mark, Ivan, Emmanuel and their sister Evelyn – never looked fazed by the challenge.
Honours dream real
“The title is a good challenge,” he says, “It’s an uphill task but possible. If we were not serious about it then there would never be any reason for us to go in there 100 per cent confident that we can win it.”
Oilers coach and the man who led Warriors to the league title last year – Mandy Juruni - backs Jimmy. “I am very confident that we can compete with the best teams,” Juruni told Sunday Monitor yesterday, “We have seen it with the two rounds we have played.”
Jimmy adds: “As for our game against Warriors (tomorrow), we want to play well and win it. We want to be our best going into play-offs.”
And as they prepare for the club’s first ever play-offs, Jimmy – 25 – knows you cannot roll out a summed up strategy for the quarterfinal three-game series, then five for semis and best-of-seven final, should they defy odds.
“We take on every game as it comes,” he says, “Of course give it our best like we should. And I don’t think we can afford to be complacent. If we did so we would be doing ourselves an injustice. We have to push ourselves even harder than the way we started.
“Every team right now in the play-offs is a big threat. This has been the first play-offs where eight or seven teams are all super strong. Anyone could beat anyone.”
Jimmy, however, refuses to admit they have had a stop-start campaign, which they started by winning two of their first three games – including a 75-65 victory over six-time champions Falcons before narrowly falling to Power 68-65.
“In sports there are always slumps. But it is always good to take the positives from losing. So I wouldn’t say we’ve totally drifted away. We lost some games, yes, but we believe we have recovered.”
Tomorrow Jimmy comes up against a Warriors team Oilers beat Warriors 71-83 in the first round, a game that will also see him once again come up against his elder brother, Ivan.
In that first round victory, Jimmy scored a career high 32 points as Oilers strengthened their dream. He will want to even better that performance tomorrow.
“Of course we’ll look at both our game and their game in approach,” he shares, “We know they are a good opposition and we shall prepare for them the best way we should.”