City Oilers dream of featuring at the inaugural Basketball Africa League (Bal) turned came up short after fluffing two opportunities at the final qualifier that concluded in Kigali, Rwanda over the weekend.
They finished behind Ferroviário de Maputo at the eight-team qualifier split into two groups to set up a semifinal clash against host club Patriots.
Like the previous meeting, the first phase of the qualifier also played in Rwanda, the Oilers were inferior to their rivals going down 81-59 at a packed 10,000 seater Kigali Arena with none of their players reaching double figures.
That could have been down to injuries restricting the high scoring guard Jordin Mayes to nine points in 14 points while Devonte Elliott accumulated 22 minutes with just five points.
“They read the game well and score high percentages. One of the things we do as City Oilers is we can find that open man. We wanted guys who can score and make plays,” coach Mandy Juruni had said of some of the new recruits.
With three teams qualifying from the tournament, the Oilers were granted another opportunity, one they also failed to utilize as they again lost out to Ferroviário de Maputo.
The Mozambican side having edged the Oilers 92-87 in the group phase earned the final qualification spot with a 74-57 result.
This was after 22-9 fourth quarter surge led by Alvaro Calvo Masa who scored a game high 20 points against the Ugandan champions.
Robinson Opong and Jimmy Enabu top scored for the Oilers with 18 and 11 points respectively in the absence of Mayes and Elliott who joined Tony Drileba on the sidelines with injury.
Patriots who defeated GNBC of Madagascar 94-63 in the final as well as Ferroviário will now represent the Division East region at Bal inaugural season that starts in March 2020
The other nine teams that qualified include AS Douanes (Senegal), AS Police (Mali), AS Sale (Morocco), GS Petroliers (Algeria), FAP (Cameroon), Petro de Luanda (Angola), Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria), Union Monastir (Tunisia) and Zamalek (Egypt).
Basketball Africa League
Patriots 81-59 City Oilers
Ferroviário 74-57 City Oilers