City Oilers defeated UCU Canons 72-57 in the decisive game of the best-of-seven-Tusker-Lite-sponsored National Basketball League playoff final series last Sunday at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium.
The result helped the Oilers win an unprecedented seventh consecutive league crown to make them the most successful side in the domestic game after surpassing Falcons’s tally of six.
That accomplishment left many wondering how the team which only came into existence at the start of the decade keeps going from strength to strength.
“We have been together for a long time that helps us a lot. We also have ambitions to play Bal to get there we have to play like it,” former captain Jimmy Enabu offered when asked what keeps the team going.
That chemistry appeared to keep the team going with the seventh title achieved despite a thin roster having been deprived of Stephen Omony, Francis Ozolibe and Jonathan Egau through injury.
Enabu is one of three players that won Oilers’ first championship after defeating Falcons in 2013 with the others being James Okello and Daniel Jjuuko.
Ben Komakech joined the following season while Burundian Landry Ndikumana was snapped up for the start of the 2015 campaign which ended with Oilers claiming a 4-3 series win again over UCU Canons.
Coach Mandy Juruni plays an integral part of their success with his in-depth knowledge of the domestic game seeing him win a record eight consecutive league titles, a key component to their success.
In contrast for UCU still have Nicholas Natuhereza as coach and has had to build the team around Fadhili Chuma the only survivor from the 2015 team that was led by Desmond Owili.
The Oilers’ solid financial base that leaves players focusing only on matters on court is one of the factors often cited in the Oilers success.
The power forward Okello who also played for the team in the lower divisions however believes it goes down to personality traits.
“For some of us basketball is more than just a game. It is a job and you have to show value. You have also got to have pride as a player and this pushes you to win all the time,” Oilers power forward said after Sunday’s victory.
That will win to win saw Okello average 17 points in the playoff finals including 11 points and 17 rebounds in the decisive game seven of the series in which he was barely rested because of a thin front court.
Only Ndikumana averaged more points with the centre averaging 17.8 games over the course of the seven-game period.
“This is the toughest series we have played because we were shorthanded. We had to step up because we had no front court options which is why I played 40 minutes,”Okello explained.
Winning consecutive titles has also allowed the Oilers pursue bigger ambitions with the national titles quickly followed by success in the Zone V region.
The just concluded season saw the Oilers feature in the revamped Africa premier club competition now referred to as Basketball Africa League (Bal) where they fell shot in the final qualification round.
“We are proud to represent Uganda. We also wanted to return to give ourselves another opportunity at playing in the Basketball Africa League Qualifiers. This year is a very good opportunity to play there because it will be expanded,” Oilers director Hassan Ahmed opined.