Ugandan champions City Oilers will struggle to enjoy the festive season after they failed to qualify for the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) that tips off in March 2020 across the continent.
The competition that is an initiative of Fiba and the NBA is expected to change the face of African basketball - notably financially and quality of basketball on court.
City Oilers came into the final phase of the Division East Qualifiers as one of the favourites to progress to the prestigious competition and a forfeited opener that saw Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) fail to turn up gave them hope.
They lost to Ferroviaro de Maputo from Mozambique 92-87 in a very tightly contested encounter - physically and technically but managed to bounce back in their last Group B game to beat Cobra from South Sudan 108-71. The result earned them second place in Group A to book a semifinal face-off with hosts Patriots. The much anticipated game saw Rwanda President Paul Kagame in attendance.
City Oilers went toe-to-toe with the home side that was playing in front of over 5,000 fans at the magnificent Kigali Arena and at half time the Patriots led 42-33.
However, the loss of dependable point guard Jordin Mayes to a left leg injury and concussion to center Devonte Elliott rendered the Oilers into trouble on the night as the rest of the 10 players failed to find their groove and forthwith lost 81-59.
Their disappointing journey came to an end on December 22 when they failed to win the third place playoff against Ferroviario de Maputo from Mozambique 74-57.
Division East will thus be represented by Ferroviaro, hosts Patriots from Rwanda who concluded the competition with a 9-0 win ratio and GNBC from Madagascar.
For all the Oilers have invested over the years, they are left disappointed with this performance as they will have to wait for next year to try and qualify for Africa’s elite competition.
They will, however, have to stay focused to ensure that they win a seventh national league title against the UCU Canons in the finals playoffs, which they are leading 2-1 so far.
CITY OILERS RESULTS
City Oilers vs. KPA (walkover)
City Oilers 92-87 Ferroviário de Maputo
Cobra 71- 108 City Oilers
Patriots 81-59 City Oilers
City Oilers 74-57 Ferroviário de Maputo