City Oilers start quest for ninth title

Fayed Baale and Ben Komakech are now teammates at City Oilers (COURTESY PICTURE)

BASKETBALL City Oilers start quest for ninth title

Ndyamuhaki J Emanzi 12:46 - 18.03.2023

Fayed Baale and Titus Lual are the most significant pieces added to an already strong Oilers team of immense quality.

City Oilers have not been masters of the opening games of the season, but they mastered the art of winning the last one.

The oilers have more often than not lost the opening game of the new season.

For the last eight National Basketball League seasons, there has only been one winner. City Oilers.

And when the new season tips off at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium on Sunday, Mandy Juruni's charges will be looking at making it nine straight titles in nine years.

Having been pushed by Namuwongo Blazers until the last play of Game Seven in the previous season, the defending champions reacted by entering the transfer market to fill the gaps.

New faces on the team come with a hunger and thirst to win titles, which will reinvigorate the charge for another championship and rule out any complacency.

Fayed Baale and Titus Lual are the most significant pieces added to an already strong team of immense quality.

Jimmy Enabu's injury in last season's finals left the champions in a spot of bother.

Tony Drileba has also struggled with injuries and will miss the season's opening game, but with Baale joining from the UCU Canons, Juruni could not have asked for a better alternative.

The departure of Francis Azolibe and Mer Maker has seen Oilers add Lual and Abdihakim Ghedi.

Lual, now a permanent fixture on the Silverbacks roster, will add rebounding prowess to the team. He can also shoot the ball to stretch the floor.

With Ruai Luak returning to the team after a short spell in Europe, Oilers have an embarrassment of riches going into the new season and are certainly more robust than they were last season.

The first challenger will be KIU Titans, a team that has recruited well for the new season and is projected to make the finals.

Julius Lutwama's charges were shorthanded as they fell 3-1 to the Blazers in last year's playoffs' second round.

Outside Fidel Okoth, Stanley Mugerwa and Edgar Munaba, the Titans needed more quality to challenge the status quo and were easily dismissed in the semis.

Mugerwa and Munaba are still part of the team, while Okoth is expected to join midway through the regular season.

But the addition of especially Saidi Amisi, arguably the regular season MVP from last season, will give the Kansanga outfit presence in the paint.

The Congolese averaged 15 points last season and was a handful for the Oilers every time the champions faced the Blazers.

Innocent Ochera is the other piece added, and he will be an upgrade on most of the guards at the club.

His scoring prowess will give the Titans a variety of options. Isaiah Mabeny is the other sharpshooter on the team.

Peter Obleng, Collins Kasujja and Brian Opiyo are the other additions to the Titans.

KIU tested a bit of success before the start of the season by lifting the UCU Invitational Tournament in Mukono, but it might not be enough to suggest they are armed enough against Oilers.

What looks certain, however, is that the Titans will lead the race of teams fighting to dethrone the Oilers this season, and Sunday's game should paint a clearer picture.

National Basketball League

Sunday fixtures (Lugogo)

Magic Stormers vs. Miracle Eaglets -10am

Power vs. Rezlife -12pm

Ndejje vs. KCCA -2pm

UCU vs. JKL -4pm

KIU Titans vs. City Oilers -6pm