KAMPALA- There are few people better placed to explain the City Oilers journey than James Okello.
The power forward is the longest serving player at the club having played for the Oilers as they earned successive promotions in the Development League and Division One before winning their first championship in 2013.
On Friday he won his fifth straight championship with the only other player sharing the feat being captain Jimmy Enabu as the Oilers swept KIU Titans 4-0 in their best-of-seven series final at Lugogo.
Yet unlike his colleague, Okello has often seemed underappreciated despite his consistency over the years.
In fact many people questioned his inclusion on the national team Silverbacks back in 2014 but such is his nature that rather than focus on the skeptics he’s let his on court work do the talking.
Following the departures of Kami Kabange,Samuel Kalwanyi and Andrew Opio, “Oksy” like he’s popularly known grasped the opportunity with both hands to become an integral part of both the Oilers and Silverbacks.
“I’ve not done much differently. Just that I think I wasn’t getting enough playing time before because we had better big guys than me like Kami Kabange, Arou Ramadan and Sammy Kalwanyi. Right now we have few big guys and that’s why I’m playing a lot,” he added.
“The other thing is playing against big guys in international tournaments has helped me a lot. When I come down here I find small guys and I can play,” Okello said of his contribution this season.
As expected he did not win the playoff MVP accolade with the award going to his colleague Landry Ndikumana but such was his influence that it would not entirely have been an outrageous decision had he been awarded the title.
Okello averaged 12.5 points and 10 rebounds in the four finals games while Ndikumana averaged 10 points and 15 boards.
“This is the championship I feel I’ve won. The rest I was just participating,” Okello spotting a rare wide grin, noted after the finals.
2017 NBL Individual accolades
Playoff MVP Men: Landry Ndikumana (City Oilers)
Playoff MVP women: Vilma Achieng (UCU Lady Canons)
Regular season MVP men: Michael Makiadi (Betway Power)
Regular season MVP women: Brenda Ekone (Nkumba Lady Marines)