26 November 2013

UGANDA : Oilers’ fairytale rolls into playoff final with Falcons

City Oilers and Falcons will meet in the 2013 basketball final.
City Oilers and Falcons will meet in the 2013 basketball final. Game One is scheduled for Friday. Photo by I. Kezaala Over the past eight seasons, Riham Warriors and DMark Power built hegemony over the national basketball league. That could be change, albeit only time will tell for how long.

Neither will appear in the finals of this year’s Castle Lite playoffs, the first time that has happened since 2005. This could be the beginning of the end of an era, accelerated by Falcons and City OilersThe manner in which the two finalists did it was all the more impressive, winning three in a row after losing the opener in their respective best-of-five semifinals thereby clinching the series 3-1.

Warriors’ reign as champions came to an end in gallant fashion, losing 87-83 to Falcons in repeat of last year’s final which ended  4-2.
But, perhaps the bigger fairytale is City Oilers who beat a spineless Power 72-68. When Power won the last of their five titles in 2011, Oilers were only being constituted to make an entry in Division Three!
It’s a testament of the solid financial backing from City Oil, organisation, luring big man Kami Kabangu (Espoir, Rwanda) and guard Jimmy Enabu (Power) and probably above all coach Mandy Juruni.                 
The elimination game was not even close as the margin suggests. Power forward Ramadhan Arou completed his towering dominance of this series for the fifth seeds with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Kabangu had nine and 15 rebounds, ourebouding Power 55-49. Enabu scored 15 as Juruni delivered a men’s team to the final for a third year running, the previous two with Warriors.
In celebration, his players carried him shoulder high in the changing room and he deserved it. “At the start of the season, our target was to reach the final and then look at the title,” Enabu said.
Adding that; “I have grown to love the responsibility now.” Either top-seeded Power didn’t have the weapons to challenge the might of the Oilers or didn’t understand the importance of an elimination game.

Ben Komakech is the only who gave it real fight, scoring 29 points and six rebounds. Paul Odong added 18. The rest folded like flowers. “We have to start all over again,” is all coach Bernes Ankunda could say.On the other hand, Warriors should be pleased with their effort but never really had the talent to stop coach Gad Eteu’s Falcons from revenge for the loss 12 months ago. Stephen Omony led all scorers with 22 points and seven rebounds, Abdullahi Ramadhan added 18 and five assists and Serge Kabangu had 15 and eight boards.

A barrage of threes from Ronnie Kasewu, 20 and nine rebounds, and Jude Ochen, 19 points, served as scanty consolation for coach Ronnie Owino, signed to defend this title after Warriors finished third in the regular season under Emmy Samanya.

Seventh seeds Falcons limited Henry Malinga to 17 and Ivan Enabu to 12. That was the key. It will be a final of stark contrasts – Oilers – the party crashers – and Falcons – the most successful team – seeking a seventh title – the first since 2007.

2005: Nkumba beat Falcons
2006: Nkumba beat Power
2007: Falcons beat Warriors
2008: Power beat Falcons
2009: Warriors beat Power
2010: Power beat Warriors
2011: Power beat Warriors
2012: Warriors beat Falcons

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