Silverbacks, City Oilers broke new frontiers in 2017 season

Monday January 1 2018

Still going strong: Silverbacks and City Oilers

Still going strong: Silverbacks and City Oilers star Omony tries to stop a surge forward orchestrated by Ikong (L). He is still going strong as he approaches his 40th birthday. PHOTO BY ISMAIL KEZAALA 

By Elvis Senono


Regardless of what happens in the belated National Basketball League final between City Oilers and KIU Titans starting next Friday, 2017 will be remembered as another dominant year for the former.
The trend was similar to the previous three years when the Oilers won the only major trophy to fight for in addition to constituting the most players as the country continued to make in-roads on the continent.
The Oilers started the calendar year by clinching a record fourth-straight domestic league crown following a 4-1 best-of-seven series win over Betway Power.
Having been swept 4-0 in the 2014 final, Betway Power matched Oilers at least in terms of effort in the opening three games leveling the series at 1-1with captain Joseph Ikong averaging 19 points in the first two.
They then narrowly lost 75-71 in the third after stretching their opponents for long periods before City Oilers rediscovered their ruthless selves with a 78-46 blowout game five victory.
Jimmy Enabu and Jonah Otim ensured there was little for the opposition to cheer about contributing a game high 15 points apiece.
The pair and four others were then part of the national Silverbacks team that clinched a second successive qualification to the AfroBasket.
This followed the straight forward 92-74 and 99-54 victories over Somalia and Burundi respectively before the 77-64 semifinal win over neighbours Rwanda that sealed qualification.
The naturalized A’darius Pegues’ scored game high 20 points and nine rebounds. Joseph Ikong and Stanley Ocitti added 16 points each before the Silverback fell 95-72 to hosts Egypt in the final.
Stephen Omony had 19, Pegues 17 and Jimmy Enabu 14 but Uganda’s losing streak to the Egyptians grew to four in Fiba competitions.
On their second appearance at AfroBasket, the Silverbacks lost all three group games 94-89 to Angola, 57-54 to Central African Republic and 79-70 to Morocco.
They however still improved on their previous performance finishing 13th, two positions better than at the previous edition in Tunisia.
Shooting guard Robinson Odoch averaged 15.3 points per game, the fourth highest at the tournament.
He returned to the country in October as City Oilers retained their Zone V crown in style.
It was another foreign import Jordni Mayez though that run the show at the tournament hosted at Lugogo Arena.
He made a slow start, lasting five minutes before an elbow to the mouth ended his night as the Oilers dispatched Tanzania’s Savio 93-46 in the opening game.
They were however made to work harder by Rwanda’s Patriots edging their anticipated group stage encounter 77-73.
A’Darius Pegues impressed with his post play scoring 11 of his 19 points in the first half while Robinson Opong added 13 as they edged the opening half 45-42.
Olivier Shyaka had a game high 16 points and Kami Kabange who was facing his former side for the first time since leaving added 12 as Patriots went into the final period with a one point 61-60 lead.
The Oilers however rallied with Jordin Mayes scoring 12 of his 16 points in the second half as Pegues added 10 rebounds to his tally.
Uganda’s other male representatives Betway Power also impressed in the group stages including a 73-60 win over Kenya’s KPA.
Power eventually finished fourth after falling to Patriots with the latter facing off again with City Oilers.
Mayez then saved his most outstanding performance for the final scoring 21 points as City Oilers retained the Zone V title with an 86-59 blowout victory.
He was duly named tournament MVP and in the tournament starting five alongside Stanley Ocitti as the Oilers earned a swift return to the continental championship.
Kenya Ports Authority meanwhile retained the women’s title ahead of compatriots Equity and Ugandan sides UCU Lady Canons and KCCA Leopards.UCU Lady Canons then used the ensuing period to assert themselves as the best women’s side in the country after sweeping the previously unbeaten KCCA Leopards 4-0 in their best of seven final series.
In defeating the Martha Soigi-less KCCA, UCU equaled the Lady Bucks record tally of seven league titles.
This included one of the finals’ best individual performances from Judith Nansobya who exploded with 25 points, 19 of those coming in the final quarter of the game three 67-60 win.
The Oilers on the other hand were instead preparing for another continental assignment after making a swift return to AfroBasket.
Like is the norm with most clubs at that level, Oilers added power forward Lleon Tilman to their roster from the team that retained Zone V.
The result was a fifth place finish, an improvement from their ninth position the previous year.
They progressed to the quarterfinals finishing fourth in Group A after defeating New Generation 81-60 and Nigeria’s Kano Pillars 95-86 following opening three losses to ES Rades, AS de Sale and 67-49 to Inter Clube.
They then succumbed to 71-96 quarterfinal loss to Union Sportive Monastir before recovering to defeat Ferroviario Beira 82-70 in the placement games.
KIU Titans now await the Oilers starting next week as they seek to win a fifth straight league crown.