01 November 2013

UGANDA : ANBL Playoffs: City Oilers – KIU Titans preview

Oilers' Yusuf will have to go past Kasekende (5) to have an impact on the seriesOilers' Yusuf will have to go past Kasekende (5) to have an impact on the seriesPhoto Credits: Basketball256
Game 1 – Friday, November 1 at 7:30pm
Game 2 – Tuesday, November 5 at 9:30pm
Game 3 – Thursday, November 7 at 7:30pm (If necessary)
Defense is KIU’s calling card. Their ability to pack the lane and defend the wings should give Yusuf Mohamed, Jimmy Enabu and Henry Mulira difficulties in driving if they opt not to take long range looks or get the ball to the bigs who might be zoned out.
KIU are a defensive irritant team and no one can testify to this more than City Oilers. The playoffs debutants were limited to 47 points and 65 points in the regular way below their season average of 73.8 points as they succumbed to KIU’s pressure-heavy defense that picked out their stand out players. KIU made it extremely difficult for City Oilers’ bigs, Arou Ramadhani to find a post position and Kami Kabange to take his shot off.  Defining these series as defense versus offense may seem simplistic but not inaccurate. Apart from UCU Canons, the only side City Oilers lost to twice in regular season are KIU Titans.  
Despite a league best defensive record in opponents’ scoring in the regular season that stood at 53.4 points, KIU will enter the series not at full strength especially on the front court. Edwin Katerega who injured his knee against Power nearly three weeks ago is a doubt for the series much as the coach insists he will be able to play. Micheal Makiadi returned in KIU’s last game of the season against Nkumba but you couldn’t feel his physical presence. Bol Akol still lacks strength to match City Oilers front court but the absence of Kami is more than a relief for KIU.
Apart from entering the series at half strength, Titans are not a scoring team. They are the second worst scorers of the teams in the playoffs. Their season average of 62.2 points is only better than Rhinos’ 58.8 points. With a half strength team, scoring will be at premium more than ever. KIU’s defense would have to return to regular-season form against the third most potent offensive team in the league and hope Chris Omanye, Julius Lutwama and Francis Kasekende are productive on the other end to get something out of the series.
City Oilers are a championship caliber team but they just can’t share the scoring responsibility. Outside of Kami Kabange (who wont be with them for the post season after his move to Morocco), Jimmy Enabu (who’s been rusty lately) and probably Arou Ramadhani, the Oilers will struggle to score. Andrew Opio and James Okello who should be the other scorers can’t turn in successive good performances.
If Mandy Juruni learnt anything from the regular season series his team can’t duplicate those performances and has to adjust if it is to advance.
Expect a more aggressive City Oliers, intimidating stares and obviously a few hard fouls because none of the sides will back down from the challenges especially physical ones.
Prediction: City Oilers in 3. Even without their best player of the season, Oilers can grind for two wins. KIU will look back to their regular season victories with confidence and that alone may get them a win.

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