City Oilers have tougher task ahead

Tony Drileba and City Oilers have their work cut out at the Basketball Africa League Qualifiers. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

Oilers have failed to make it there for the first two seasons but made a step in that direction by getting a 2-1 record from the first round in Dar es Salam, Tanzania over the weekend. 

For the third time in a row, City Oilers have qualified for the Elite 16 round of the Basketball Africa League Qualifiers.

This is the final phase of qualifiers to the lucrative continental tournament that only accommodates the best 12 teams in Africa.

Oilers have failed to make it there for the first two seasons but made a step in that direction by getting a 2-1 record from the first round in Dar es Salam, Tanzania over the weekend. 

Two wins sandwiched a close 64-58 loss to Burundi’s Urunani and that was enough to see the Ugandan champions progress.

“The goal was for us to make it to the next round and we did,” Oilers guard Tonny Drileba said after Sunday night’s nail-biting victory at the Benjamin Mkapa stadium.

“Playing at the BAL has always been a dream for us as a club so this is huge for us,” he added.

Progress did not come without challenges. Home side Army Basketball Club fell to Urunani on opening night but re-ignited interest with victory over Zambia’s Matero Magic to set up a winner-takes-all matchup with Oilers. 

And it was new recruit Germaine Roebuck and Tonny Drileba who paced Oilers offense down the stretch to see the Ugandan champions over the line with a 71-63 victory. Roebuck posted a game high 31 points in the encounter as Oilers got the job done.


Tougher task ahead

Oilers will now turn their attention to the Elite 16 round slated for November 22-27 in Cape Town, South Africa.

It is a stage Oilers have found tough to negotiate. First, it was the narrow miss in Kigali, Rwanda in the 2019 qualifiers and then the missed trip to South Africa due to the Omicron variant when Covid-19 was at its peak down South.

Head coach Mandy Juruni told this paper that the team would load for the next phase of qualifiers and that will play a big part in Oilers’ fortunes in South Africa. Both Roebuck and Trey Petty put up good performances in Dar es Salam but the next phase will require even more fire power.

 Cape Town Tigers (South Africa, Ferroviario da Beira (Mozambique), Cobra Sport (South Sudan), Urunani (Burundi), COSPN (Madagascar), KPA (Kenya) and NBA Academy Africa await the eight-time league winners in Group F of the Elite 16 stage.

The top three teams from the tournament will progress to the BAL regular season.


City Oilers results

 City Oilers 90-54 Matero Magic

 Urunani 64-58 City City oilers

 City Oilers 71-63 ABC

 Group F of the Elite 16

Cape Town, Ferroviario da Beira, Cobra Sport, Urunani, COSPN, KPA, NBA Academy Africa.

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