Drileba exit decimates City Oilers core

Drileba is now drilling away from City Oilers. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

The exodus of players has yet to stop, with Tonny Drileba the latest to step out of the exit door. 

City Oilers’ next game in the National Basketball League is on Friday night against UCU Canons. 

And going by what has transpired in their camp the last one week, anything can happen between now and the game tip off. 

It is not clear which other player will have asked to be allowed to exit the club. 

The exodus of players has yet to stop, with Tonny Drileba the latest to step out of the exit door. 

This week, the club, through their social media channels, revealed that the Silverbacks guard would be leaving after nine years of service.

The club announced: “As you move on to new adventures, we want to take a moment to thank you for all the hard work, dedication and positivity you brought to the team. You’ve been an incredible teammate. Best of luck in your future endeavors.” 

Drileba, who has spent nine years with the club and won seven championships and two Fiba Zone V Club Championships, now becomes the third elite player to leave after Jimmy Enabu and James Okello.

The three were the team’s most experienced players and are said to have fallen out with the club management over payments and decided to walk out.

Money issues

As the senior players on the team, the trio is said to have disagreed with the club regarding payments following the conclusion of the Basketball Africa League, where Oilers’ 1-5 record was not good enough for a playoffs spot in Kigali, Rwanda.

City Oiliers fans carry Tonny Drileba after overcoming Nam Blazers in the finals. 

Sources say that management paid to the players what was expected from BAL but then refused to clear April and May salaries, something the senior players questioned.

Pleas by the players to have this resolved are said to have fallen on deaf ears.

That is said to have triggered the players, who have always felt they deserved a lot more than the club was offering.

The club’s reluctance to increase senior players’ salaries over the years, the lack of playing time at the BAL, and general treatment of players are factors pointed out as to what is leading to the exodus.

Drileba has received offers from the region, with Burundi’s Urunani as one of the teams in the race for his signature. There is also interest from teams in DR Congo.

Whereas all the players departing the club have yet to decide what next, they are pretty sure separating from the nine-time National Basketball League champions immediately was the right decision.

Ivan Muhwezi and Ben Komakech are now the only long-serving players left in the squad, with the former also rumoured to be in talks with teams in Rwanda about his next move.

Komakech was handed the assistant coach role after Mandy Juruni’s departure but will now likely play a lot more minutes, with the back court losing the experience and quality that Drileba and Enabu possess.

Fayed Baale and Titus Lual still have running contracts with the club and are expected to stay, at least until the end of the season.

Edrine Walujo, Rogers Dauna, Allawi Ssenkubuge and Malual Dier are the younger crop now expected to play heavy minutes in the team’s fight to retain the title.

Tonny Drileba

Date of birth: December 19, 1993 (Age 30)

Position: Guard 

Height: 6-feet-2-inch 

Shirt number: 4

Championships: 7