What you need to know:
- Their sessions are normally held at YMCA but this week is different. The opponent is Oilers, the team they are working hard to dethrone and everything must be done the right way, including getting used to the indoor, the venue for the game.
It is Tuesday night and Namuwongo Blazers are going through their paces at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium ahead of Friday’s prime time clash with National Basketball League defending champions City Oilers.
Their sessions are normally held at YMCA but this week is different. The opponent is Oilers, the team they are working hard to dethrone and everything must be done the right way, including getting used to the indoor, the venue for the game.
The team is divided into two and on one end, new signing Kennedy Wachira, Joseph Ikong, David Deng, Ariel Okall and Saidi Amisi are in blue. Collins Kasujja, Chris Omanye, Richard Ongom, Daniel Monoja and Nyuot Chol are on the opposite side in red.
Cyrus Kiviiri, who is still getting back in the business after a long injury lay-off is on the sidelines, just like team captain Daniel Jjuko and Paul Odongo, the two arrived some minutes into the session.
That is how deep the Blazers are going into tonight’s game with a City Oilers side that has only nine players to work with.
In fact, head coach Mandy Juruni jokes that they are only ‘eight and a half’ and not nine considering James Okello is far from full fitness and still nursing an injury.
Tonny Drileba and Ivan Lumanyika are definitely out.
With a clean bill of health on their end, the Blazers will only be limited by the Fuba rules that allow for just four foreign players on the team sheet on a given game day.
Stephen Nyeko’s charges have six foreigners and they must pick four for tonight. Amisi, Okall, Wachira, Deng, Omanye and Chol have four positions to fight for.
“We have to choose four players to represent and the team will support whoever has been selected to play,” Nyeko told Daily Monitor ahead of the game.
New signing Wachira was recruited and talks a big game. He can shoot the ball from distance and will beat his man to the hoop.
Omanye is a seasoned campaigner and it remains to be seen whether the Blazers will select the two guards for the same game or go for size and drop one of the two. Amisi, Deng and Okall all look undroppable.
It is not often that you discuss Oilers as a team in trouble but this might be the perfect time. At the start of the season, Juruni had Jimmy Enabu, Drileba, Ruai Ruak, Okello and Lumanyika as his starters but two of these are out injured now and the other is clearly playing because the team needs bodies.
“It will be a tough game considering the situation we are in,” Juruni told this paper before adding, “I think we have enough talent to compete well and possibly win the game.”
After the loss to KIU Titans, Oilers responded with a 122-74 pummelling of Falcons and Ceaser Kizito poured in 30 points. Juruni will hope for the same kind of performance tonight.
“I want him to be wild again against Blazers,”
With Okello’s situation, Kizito must be ready for a bigger role inside the paint.
The Blazers defeated Oilers 72-65 in the season opener and will be looking to to the double over the seven-time league winners.
Oilers, with a 14-3 record, are second on the log while Blazers are a distant eighth on an 11-4 run.