City Oilers’ Tonny Drileba motivated by BAL Ubuntu trophy

Tonny Drileba pauses with his BAL Ubuntu Trophy after Friday’s game against Al Ahly. PHOTO/EMANZI NDYAMUHAKI 

What you need to know:

Right before tip-off, Drileba was presented with the 2023 Ubuntu Trophy by Basketball Africa League President Amadou Gallo Fall before starting the game for the Ugandan champions.

Friday night was a rollercoaster of emotions for City Oilers guard Tonny Drileba as the Basketball Africa League Nile Conference commenced in Cairo, Egypt.

Right before tip-off, Drileba was presented with the 2023 Ubuntu Trophy by Basketball Africa League President Amadou Gallo Fall before starting the game for the Ugandan champions.

The on-court handover ceremony was held only minutes before the Ugandan champions squared up with hosts and defending champions Al Ahly at the Hassan Mostafa Sports Complex.

The result, a resounding 99-76 win for the hosts, was humbling for Drileba and his teammates.

“It is obviously disappointing to walk out of the gym without the win tonight,” the guard told the press after the game. 

He added: “As regards the award, this is what I have been doing for nearly a decade now and personally, I never did it for the recognition. For me, it’s just a passion for doing the things that I do but to get recognition like this is a very big deal. It sheds a lot of light on the work that I have been doing.”

Tonny Drileba in action against Al Ahly during Friday night’s Basketball Africa League Nile Conference contest. PHOTO/COURTSEY

“It’s a big deal because it creates an opportunity for the work done to be seen. It puts you out there and maybe it helps get more people on board or even motivate more people to do some of these things that we do. It’s an honour and I really cannot understate how important this is, hopefully going from this the work we do will increase and have a wider impact.”

The Basketball Africa League Ubuntu Award is an award that recognises a player participating in the BAL and who best represents the league through his efforts in the community. 

In Drileba’s case, the Ubuntu Trophy recognizes his ongoing efforts to use the game of basketball to positively impact the lives of youth in his native Uganda.

Throughout the year, Drileba regularly hosted basketball clinics and life-skills seminars for boys and girls from underprivileged communities in Kampala.

As an assistant coach for Angels Basketball Club – a professional women’s team that competes in the Ugandan Basketball League – he participated in the club’s community outreach projects across the country, including youth clinics and life-skills seminars at Nakivale Refugee Camp in Western Uganda. 

Drileba averaged 5.6 points in three games against the Cape Town Tigers (South Africa), Ferroviàrio da Beira (Mozambique) and Petro de Luanda (Angola) during the 2023 BAL season. 

He will now be looking to improve on that and help the club achieve its target of making the BAL Playoffs slated for late May in Kigali, Rwanda. 

The defeat in the opener now leaves City Oilers with work to do, and the clash with Bangui on Saturday will be an opportunity to turn things around and get back to winning ways. 

A seven-time National Basketball League champion in Uganda, Drileba has also represented his country at the Fiba Afrobasket Championship (2021) and was part of the team that played the first phase of the Fiba Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers recently.

The Ubuntu Trophy now becomes one of the priceless collections in Driver’s cabin of accolades. The trophy is accompanied by $5,000 from BAL partners New Fortress Energy Inc. and this will be donated to a charitable organisation of Drileba’s choice.   

Previous BAL Ubuntu Trophy winners include Hichem Benayad-Cherif (Algeria’s Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers; 2021) and Jean-Jacques Nshobozwabyosenumukiza (Rwanda Energy Group Basketball Club; 2022).

Basketball Africa League 

Friday results 

Al Ahly LY 93-71 Bangui 

Al Ahly 99-76 City Oilers 

Saturday fixtures

Bangui vs. City Oilers, 5pm

Al Ahly  vs. Al Ahly LY, 8pm