Today is exactly 30 days since City Oilers last played a competitive game. Their last Airtel National Basketball League game was a 59-50 defeat of Charging Rhino on August 9. The men’s national team, the Silverbacks’ participation in the Fiba Afrobasket, has had a lot to do with Oilers’ inactivity as their clash with KIU Titans was postponed.
That period of lull has two faces; the two-time defending champions could be rusty or the players are in fine form after getting rid of niggles.
Their coach Mandy Juruni must be hoping for more of the latter as they face minnows Diamond in the Sun at YMCA court today.
“You cannot rule out the rustiness but we should still be able to cope with it,” said Juruni, who during that break, has also been away with the national team.
The coach also thinks Ben Komakech is close to return after a lengthy injury layoff. “He is about 50 per cent fit but may find it difficult to handle the physical demands of the game at the moment,” Juruni said. The two-time playoffs MVP hasn’t featured this year after undergoing knee surgery back in January. Without the mercurial point guard, Oilers have won 14 of their 16 games, a record only matched by UCU Canons.
That could be treated as water under the bridge as the important period of their season is yet to come. The playoffs are on the horizon and Oilers know they must up the ante in their chase for a three-peat. Also, they have to travel to Rwanda for the Fiba Africa Zone V Club Championships next month hoping to improve on their third- place finish in Mombasa last year.
Perhaps, a game against Diamonds, who have lost all but one of their 19 games thus far, doesn’t serve as perfect preparation for the task ahead. However, Juruni will know that players are only good when playing. He must also feel desperate to see Burundian forward Landry Ndikumana dominate the opposition.
Today at ymca (men)
Bush Court vs. Titans 6:30pm
City Oilers vs. Diamond 8:30pm