- Basketball. As the 2018 season tips off this morning at the Lugogo MTN Arena, we look at how the rest of the league is preparing to catch-up with the Oilers machine.
City Oilers stranglehold on the National Basketball League has seen them win the last five league championships.
That has meant beating up on whatever opposition there has been in the ensuing period that saw six-time record champions Falcons, UCU Canons, Betway Power and KIU Titans all swept aside.
As the 2018 season tips off this morning at the Lugogo MTN Arena, we look at how the rest of the league is preparing to catchup with the Oilers machine.
They stand alongside City Oilers as five time championship winners and despite last tasting glory in 2011, continue to make their presence felt at least off court.
Boasting a sizable chunk of the domestic basketball fans, the team on Thursday announced a shs200m season partnership with online betting company Betway ahead of the new season. In came seven new players in another roster shake-up that should make them stronger at least on paper.
Big man Michael Kojo will this season have the returning Phillip Ameny (Pemba Warriors) Geoffrey Soro, Brian Sivachi (Nkumba Marines) Mike Madol for company.
It however remains to be seen how guards Steven Wundi and David Opolot (Our Saviour) blend in the Arnold “Mchuda” Lando coached side. That the coach’s powers’ are often usurped in the crunch moments remains a concern.
A first ever finals playoff appearance showed there is really not much with coach Brian Wathum’s side. Unlike their finals opponents the Titans seemed unsure of their starting five as they stayed true to the adage of too many cooks spoiling the Kansanga broth.
Francis Sokoroza, Francis Mbuyi and Geoffrey Soro are among the departures ahead of Brian Wathum’s first full season in charge. He will now be assisted by Robert Mugabe who arrives at the same time as Joseph Chuma, Wilson Otweyo and Emma Lokeris, the last two from the lower division.
Coach Ronnie Mutebi has described his current roster as younger and competitive after parting with the likes of Mike Buzangu, Phillip Ameny that wilted in last year’s playoff semifinals to KIU Titans. With the financial muscle of sponsor Jack Pemba having reduced emphasis has consequently been on recruiting from the lower divisions with Bugema University the biggest supplier of up to four players.
The additions of Mike Gatete (Ndejje University) and Vinnie Jurua (Falcons) will keep the team competitive.
Young power forward Stanley Mugerwa is expected to play even better in his second season in a team that will be led by Syrus Kiviiri and Mark Opio.
While most of the title pretenders are struggling with an experienced coach, UCU Canons boast Nicholas Natuhereza.
Being a university team, the institution is resigned to their best players constantly moving on and often requiring Natuhereza’s scouting coaching and motivational skills to keep them challenging .
A similar if not bigger task awaits this season too following the key departures of Wundi, Brian Namake, Jonathan Egau and Gang Andrew among others.
The Mukono side forced themselves into the eight team playoffs in their debut season. They will be itching to get past the quarterfinal step with the addition of another experienced forward in Namake.
It remains to be seen if they can also squeeze out a decent season to the prodigious talents of Ivan Enabu and Norman Blick who are in the evenings of their careers.
Yet after all has been said, the Oilers never rest and in moving out Jeff Omondi, Brian Sentongo and Joseph Chuma, they have replaced them with arguably better players.
Egau joins from UCU as well as power forward Brian Muramba and Silverbacks present and future guards Josh Johnson and Ivan Muhwezi respectively.
In doing so they have retained largely the core of their team that continues to serve them including Jimmy Enabu, James Okello, Ben Komakech, landry Ndikumana and Daniel Jjuuko.