27 November 2013
UGANDA : City Oilers revel in uncharted waters
The palpable excitement after Game 4 of City Oilers’ series triumph over DMark Power told half the story for the victors.
As underwhelming underdogs against champions in three of the last five years, Oilers had already overachieved by the time they reached the semi-finals.
In fact it could be argued that reaching the playoffs in their first season in Division One amounted to a satisfactory season.
Their ambition on promotion in December last year was to lift the title in two years. Now, they are in the finals in their first year.
Only 12 months ago, their roster was awash with part-timers.
The team that gained promotion in 2012 had enlisted several pickup caliber players
To make the competitive grade of the top division, it necessitated making recruitments that would match the scale offered by powerhouses Power, Falcons, UCU and Warriors.
The smart signings of Kami Kabange, Jimmy Enabu and Daniel ‘Najja’ Juuko elevated their prowess in an instant. Kami’s talismanic presence has particularly been priceless. With his intelligence and leadership, Oilers are genuine title contenders. Without him, they are at less than half mast. For Oilers though, the ambition was not just to win but to grow basketball in the country.
“We want to make basketball competitive,” Oilers President Mohammed Ghedi said on promotion to Division One.
“We want the Division to be competitive, exciting and colourful. We don’t want to just prioritise winning as City Oilers.” Seen as money bags because of being bankrolled by City Oil under the Mandela group, their advent can only bode well for the ball game. Oilers’ plan is not to buy success. They intend to earn it by building their capacity.
“We want to earn respect in the league,” club patron Hassan Ahmed reiterated. “We will continue looking around to offer young players chance to make a fair product for all fans of the sport.” Ghedi is intent on the club growing organically. “A better Oilers overtime means a better national league because the number of strong teams increases. We hope to be spoken of in the same breath as Power, Warriors, Falcons, UCU and KIU in years to come.” For now, their focus is on the small matter of Game One of the 2013 finals against Falcons on Friday.