City Oilers hire new coach for BAL

New broom. New City Oilers head coach Nesba Karim (speaking) while on duty with the NBA Academy. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

The Moroccan has been hired by the club as head coach, with the team’s focus on negotiating the conference all the way to the BAL Playoffs in Kigali, Rwanda.

City Oilers completed their National Basketball League first round with a commanding 80-56 win over UCU Canons Monday night at YMCA in Wandegeya.

The nine-time champions used the last part of the third quarter to break away and create a 14-point difference, from which UCU could not recover down the stretch. 

James Okello led the way for Andrew Tendo’s charges, recording a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds while Tonny Drileba and Titus Lual added 14 and 11 points respectively. 

The victory saw the Oilers improve to a 10-1 record to end the first round as the number-one seed. The team’s only loss of the season thus far was against second-placed Namuwongo Blazers. 

Next chapter

In attendance during Monday’s game was Nesba Karim, the man who will be in charge of the team when the Basketball Africa League Nile Conference action tips off on April 19 in Cairo, Egypt. 

The Moroccan has been hired by the club as head coach, with the team’s focus on negotiating the conference all the way to the BAL Playoffs in Kigali, Rwanda.

City Oilers will face defending champions and hosts Al Ahly (Egypt), Al Ahly (Libya) and   Bangui Sporting Club (Central African Republic), with the top two teams of the group automatically making the playoffs. 

Karim played College Basketball at Auburn Montgomery University in the US and professionally in Belgium. He also played for the Morocco national team for eight years before retiring into coaching. 

Karim is a player development coach with the NBA Academy and supports the day-to-day development, coaching and scouting of top high school-age athletes from across Africa.

Prior to joining the NBA Academy Africa, he was coaching in NBA grassroots programs in Morocco. 

“City Oilers are a team from a great country, Uganda produces many good prospects and they also have a solid national team, qualified for African Championships so I think Oilers did well last year, for the first time and our goal this year is to do better,” Karim told Daily Monitor in an exclusive interview. 

Tough job

Oilers will know that they must raise their level greatly to get through the tough group and make the playoffs. The break from the league will now allow Karim and the team enough time to prepare before the action. 

The team is expected to fly out to Alexandria on Saturday and it is there that the foreign-based additions will join camp to fine-tune for the April 19-27 competition. 

“I think when you look at other teams, they have a long season, they play together for a long time, they have bigger budgets and all the facilities. Countries like Angola, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, these countries have leagues with high-level teams and they play against each other all year long that’s why their level is high,” Karim opined.

City Oilers will open the BAL season with a clash against Al Ahly, who defeated them 72-70 in the opener last campaign. 

City Oilers head coach 

Name: Nesba Karim 

DOB: June 5, 1986 (Age 37)

Nationality: Moroccan 

Coaching experience: NBA Academy 

Playing experience: College Basketball (USA), Professional Basketball (Belgium), Morocco national team