Why City Oilers parted ways with long-serving duo

Guard Jimmy Enabu. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

Okello’s four rebounds and two assists in the team’s 71-47 win over Our Savior on May 5, 2024 will go down in history as his last contribution for the club he served since 2012.

The split between City Oilers and their two longest-serving players, Jimmy Enabu and James Okello, came to the public on Saturday and has left more questions than answers.

Daily Monitor reached out and confirmed that both Enabu and Okello had played their last games with the nine-time champions and will be leaving the club immediately.

Okello’s four rebounds and two assists in the team’s 71-47 win over Our Savior on May 5, 2024 will go down in history as his last contribution for the club he served since 2012.

“I have not yet been released by the club so, I’m still waiting for that,” Okello said when contacted for a comment.

Whereas the three-time MVP is not sure when the release will come, he is certain that his time with the club is over and nothing will change that.

“Right now, I have no plans. I’m only waiting for my release and then I can come out clearly,” Okello, who captained the club in the Basketball Africa League Nile Conference, revealed.

On Tuesday, the club, for the first time, came out to confirm through their social media channels.

The goodbye message to Okello read: “Grateful for your leadership and the countless ways you’ve lifted our team as the Team Captain. Here’s to new beginnings and endless possibilities.”

Forward James Okello (with ball). PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

Club President Muhammad Santur revealed that the two players had received offers that made sense and asked to leave the club, to which the management agreed and gave a greenlight.

Santur told this publication: “They both got offers, Jimmy in Burundi and Okello in Rwanda. They are good deals for them so we decided to let them go. It’s confirmed, they are leaving.”

What went wrong?

That City Oilers are letting go of players midway through the season raises eyebrows, and rightly so. Players have come and left, but Enabu and Okello are big pieces in the club’s history and could not have left if staying was an option.

The club lost long-serving head coach Mandy Juruni to Rwanda’s Kepler at the start of the season and appointed Andrew Tendo, his former assistant to take charge and help the team to yet another championship.

And with Tendo taking the head coach role for the first time, players like Enabu and Okello, who have been there and done it all, are the kind he would need in his corner to deliver a tenth straight title.

But whispers of unrest amongst the players have started surfacing, with some stemming from the team’s two trips to the Basketball Africa League and remuneration.

An inside source told this paper that Okello and Enabu took the hit on behalf of their teammates following a disagreement with the club management.

Remuneration for taking part in the BAL is said to have been an issue last season and more of the same this time round, and when questions were asked, egos clashed and decisions had to be made.

That was only the icebreaker in a team full of discontented players.

The most recent trip to Egypt featured no Enabu, while the local players who made the trip, Okello inclusive, all struggled for playing time.

Enabu was named among the reserves before the team left for a training camp in Alexandria and eventually missed out on the tournament.

Players feel they could and should have played and contributed more at the big stage.

The Silverbacks captain remains tight-lipped regarding his next course of action but confirmed: “Yes I’ve left the team.” 

Whereas it remains unclear where Enabu and Okello will be playing next, what is clear is that Oilers will not have to face the duo in their quest for a tenth-straight title since the local mid-season transfer window closed last Friday.

Tonny Drileba, Fayed Baale, Ivan Muhwezi and Titus Lual are the key players now expected to carry the franchise forward. 

Name: Jimmy Enabu

DOB: April 17, 1988 (Age 36) 

Position: Guard 

Shirt Number: 5

Accolades: 10X NBL champion, 2X Zone V Clubs champion, 2X MVP

Name: James Okello 

DOB: January 26, 1990 (Age 34)

Position: Power forward

Shirt number: 15 

Accolades: 9X NBL Champions, 2X Zone V champion, 3X MVP