After winning seven straight National Basketball League titles, City Oilers can be forgiven for losing some build up games here and there.
KCCA Panthers and KIU Titans have defeated the champions in two games played during the Easter break.
The latest loss, a 73-54 fall to the Titans at Kampala International University in Kansanga on Easter Monday, left head coach Mandy Juruni with no concerns as season tip off nears.
The Silverbacks tactician is confident his troops will come to the party when it’s time to fight for the league title.
Oilers barely competed from the onset and Henry Okoth’s shot from beyond the arc started off the one- sided affair.
KIU got out of the blocks early and led 18-09 after the first quarter. Oilers, who fielded two different lineups in the first two quarters, were limited to just 18 points in the entire first half.
The home side led 41-18 at halftime and went on to win the game despite Oilers’ spirited third quarter display.
Juruni believes the game showed his side what needs to be done before the start of the season.
“We know that we are not ready but can be really good,” Juruni told Daily Monitor after the scrimmage.
“It’s a well-balanced team with some youth and experience,” he added.
Oilers made some key signings to freshen up the team that has dominated basketball the last seven years.
Silverbacks assistant captain Joseph Ikong, Michael Makiadi and Ceaser Kizito are some of the top pieces added to the side and Juruni is confident they will deliver when the season starts.
“The new players are all adopting to our philosophy and learning to play with the rest of the guys.”
Ikong has played with Jimmy Enabu, Ben Komakech and Makiadi at Betway Power and that should rule out any chemistry issues.
He has also trained and played with the likes of Tonny Drileba, Ivan Muhwezi and James Okello on the national team.
“Ikong and Ceaser have played with most of the guys in the national team so it won’t take long to get chemistry well.”
John Dombo, Luak Ruai and Emmanuel Makuei are the new kids on the block for the record champions.
Francis Azolibe, Josh Johnson, Daniel Juuko and Johnathan Egau are the players Oilers let go. Veteran Stephen Omony is still out with injury.
Azolibe and Juuko will be ready to pounce for Namuwongo Blazers when the two sides meet in the first game of the season April 17.
The short season will have teams meeting just once in the regular season and the fight for the eight playoffs spots starts straight away.
The seven time champions have seen and done it all the last seven seasons and will still be favourites for the title when serious business starts.
CITY OILERS SQUAD
Jimmy Enabu, Ben Komakech, Ivan Muhwezi, Joseph Ikong, Caesar Kizito, Michael Makiadi, James Okello, Landry Ndikumana, Tonny Drileba, John Dombo, Luak Ruai, Emmanuel Makuei