Khaman Maluach double-double not enough for City Oilers

Khaman Maluach recorded his first BAL double-double but ended up on the losing side with City Oilers on Saturday. PHOTO/COURTSEY OF BAL

What you need to know:

The stats sheet read 29 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and one steal for the South Sudanese BAL-Elevate player, who has committed to join Duke University.

Khaman Maluach played his best Basketball Africa League but ended up on the wrong side of a 101-88 scoreline as Uganda’s City Oilers fell to Central African Republic’s Bangui Sporting Club in the Nile Conference Saturday night in Cairo, Egypt.

The 17-year-old was the one functional bit about the Oilers, who collapsed on defence and were heavily punished by a Bangui side playing in the BAL for the first time.

It was Bangui’s first-ever BAL win, having fallen 93-71 to Libya’s Al Ahly Benghazi in the opener on Friday. 

The stats sheet read 29 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and one steal for the South Sudanese BAL Elevate player, who has committed to join Duke University.

“We started the game very well. We played defence and went through our coverages but at the end everything went loose and we got into foul trouble, they were in the bonus were shooting free throws. We are going to fix that and get better,” Maluach said after the game. 

Playing in his third BAL season, having previously represented South Sudan’s Cobra and Senegal’s AS Douanes, Maluach is interestingly the youngest player on the Oilers team but also one of the most experienced in the league. 

His 10-for-13 rhythm from the field and seven-for-nine from the free throw line saw him record the highest points scored by an individual in the ongoing Nile Conference.

Dane Miller Jr. had 13 points and nine rebounds while Patrick Rembert and Bashir Ahmed added 12 points apiece for Oilers. 

City Oilers head coach Karim Nesba, who has also coached Maluach in the NBA Academy, threw him into the starting lineup for the second game after bringing him off the bench in the 99-76 loss to hosts and defending champions Al Ahly on Friday. 

Maluach was one of the three changes made to the starting lineup, alongside Titus Lual and Patrick Rembert.

The trio replaced James Okello, Tonny Drileba and Bashir Ahmed. 

“You can only be proud of this kid, you know, he’s come in and he’s lifted us on his back, you know, 29 and 12. He played a lot of minutes, he’s from Kampala so for him I know it’s special before going to Duke University,” Nesba told Daily Monitor after the game. 

He added: “The City Oilers, I know they are proud to have him and it’s going to be history for him. He grew up in Kampala and he’s from Uganda and it’s good that history will remember that Khaman Maluach played for the City Oilers and I'm very happy for that.”

Maluach, having fled South Sudan with his mother and brothers at a young age, lived in Uganda and started his basketball journey there before he was recommended for the NBA Academy in Saly, Senegal.

With a 0-2 record to start the tournament, City Oilers are already in a bad place and Maluach and the rest of the troops will have to start digging themselves out of the hole by winning some games to stand any chances of qualifying for the BAL Playoffs slated for late May in Kigali, Rwanda. 

The nine-time Ugandan champions are bottom of the log and face second-placed Al Ahly Benghazi on Monday to try and arrest the crisis.

Basketball Africa League

Nile Conference

Saturday results 

Bangui 101-88 City Oilers 

Al Ahly 98-86 Al Ahly LY