Gallant Power hold off Oilers

MIchael Kojo (left) of Tiger Head Power challenges Landry Ndikumana of City Oilers during the Airtel Fuba Pepsi National Basketball League Semi Final playoff game 2 at Wandegeya. PHOTO by Ismail Kezaala

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Basketball. Kabange finished with a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out in the extra period. That was a game-changer as was a change of strategy from the five-time champions

KAMPALA.

Beating City Oilers is something Tiger Head Power had not experienced for two years. It’s a feeling they could have forgotten after so many morale-sapping defeats, 15 in a row.
That feel good factor returned on Wednesday at YMCA court as Power held off a defiant Oilers’ side 90-88 in overtime to level the Pepsi Fuba League playoff five-game semifinal series at 1-all.
The former champions deserved the feeling of bliss; their last victory over the two-time defending champions came on November 13, 2013, a forgotten 79-72 result!
Joseph Ikong, Michael Kojo, Daniel Owiti and Paul Mwaka are the only survivors from that side. Even if there is still three games to come in the semifinals, this felt like a championship in its own right.
Forget the final, for now. “I have no issues with the celebrations because they have earned it,” Power coach Bernes Ankunda said.
Adding; “But we are also aware the result does not mean much because the games coming up will even be harder.”
It’s one they almost threw away. Oilers’ centre Kami Kabange, postseason MVP in the first of their back-to-back title from 2013, scored five points in the final 10 seconds to tie the game at 76-up.
Kabange finished with a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out in the extra period. That was a game-changer as was a change of strategy from the five-time champions.
Often renowned for their transition and shooting, coach Bernes Ankunda’s team seemed intent on pushing the ball inside. From there, they were 28 of 64, also earning 27 free throws.
Oilers made nine less trips to the charity line. That reigning MVP Jimmy Enabu was one of the Oilers not to make a visit there defined the gallant defensive effort.
However, Power almost blew a 10-point lead late. It’s in overtime where they could have cruised. Sudi Ulanga scored six of his team-high 20 points here having opted to drive rather than shoot.

The shooting guard took only five threes, sinking three. Big man Michael Makiadi scored 19 to snatch the lead with 10 seconds left after Michael Kojo’s foul basket.
All this was happening on the backdrop of a stellar night for Geoff Omondi. He was 7 for 9 behind the arc for his 23 points. His additional 10 rebounds showed how much he didn’t merit defeat.
When Omondi was ejected, coach Mandy Juruni threw on Andrew Opio. Had he made his free throws with three seconds to play, Oilers would have had a third lifeline they hardly deserved.
Landry Ndikumana thrilled early before fading to 15 points and eight rebounds, Enabu eight and two-time MVP Ben Komakech seven.
Dulah’ 12 and Richard Balemwa’s 10 off the bench were more telling to end a streak that goes back to Game One of the 2013 semifinals.

Fuba playoffs
SEMIFINALS – RESULTS
WOMEN
KIU Rangers 43-51 KCCA Leopards
(KCCA lead series 2-0)
MEN
Power 90-88 City Oilers
(Series tied 1-all)
TODAY AT LUGOGO
MEN
UCU Canons vs. KIU Titans, 8.30pm
WOMEN
UCU Lady Canons vs. A1 Challenge, 6.30pm
(KIU and UCU Lady Canons lead series 1-0)

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