You could have picked at least half of either Tiger Head Power or City Oilers’ rosters for match winners and ignored James Okello. No one could have had a bet on him.
He just didn’t belong to that category until the most hyped game, a repeat of last year’s semis, of the Airtel National Basketball League until Friday. Okello does belong now after scoring the final five points including the go-ahead free throw with two seconds to go to hand Oilers an 82-81 victory over Power.
These two sides have dominated the headlines lately and just when the league had been played in first gear for three weeks, they gave it a lift, a huge lift.
On a chilly night at YMCA court, champions Oilers played catch-up. Okello’s three-pointer at the end of third, tied the game heading into the fourth quarter.
Overtime had been a certainty until Norman Blick fouled Okello, leading to the former’s early, with two seconds on the clock.
The small forward missed the first free throw but made the second. “It’s good to contribute and win,” Okello, who had been run rugged by Blick all night, told Daily Monitor.
In all, he had 12 points. Just a fortnight back, Okello scored 15 to help Ndejje University beat UCU in the Zuku university basketball league final 61-45.
That was a slide-show. This was the real stuff – Power and Oilers look like they have the best rosters and many back them to contend for this year’s title. Somehow, Okello trumped MVP Kami Kabange’s 23 points and eight rebounds. Blick had 19, his new mates, Abullahi Ramadhan and Philip Ameny, formerly of Falcons, scored 14 and 12.
The two ran out of steam and Ameny fouled out. Isaac Afidra started to bury last year’s horror show with 15 points for coach Bernes Ankunda’s side.
The quality of basketball may not have been pleasing but Okello’s grit decided it and not the agility and fancy collection on the floor.
MEN: Power 1-82 City Oilers
WOMEN: KIU 65-57 A1