12 February 2014

UGANDA : Kami nears exit, Oilers target more glory

City Oilers’ team manager Silver Rugambwa has always insisted that the success of Kami Kabange was never an accident but rather by design. “Seeing him taking half of all our shots and getting all those touches was always in the plan. So I don’t get it when people say we will struggle after he leaves,” Rugambwa said.
A glimpse into the next ‘design’ is not too far away as the Congolese-born Rwandan big man leaves for ‘greener pastures’ in Qatar upon receiving his visa. Kami was on Saturday named Most Valuable Player (MVP) having led Oilers to their first national basketball title in their debut season.
In the finals, his average of 18.4 points and 10.5 rebounds for the seven games against Falcons for a 4-3 series win was simply astounding. 
So how you clog the hole left by the best ‘big man’ in this region having dominated the Zone V tournaments and lifted Rwanda at the Afrobasket? “We have already replaced him,” coach Mandy Juruni responded.
And that’s not because they signed point guard Ben Komakech from DMark Power and guard/forward Geoff Omondi. “We want to develop Sami (Samuel Kalwanyi), and Mabenz (Andrew Opio) and (James) Okello so they will be our bigs,” Juruni said. “Plus, we still have (Ramadhan) Arou. I believe we are still strong in that department.” Sami showed glimpses of brilliance last season.
Arou proved himself when Benz was largely injured while Okello is a solid defender but it might take much more to replace their talisman. Rugambwa added that initial plans to sign Bievennu Ngandu from Rwanda’s Espoir fell through as the player decided to try his luck in Gabon.
Ngandu, referred to as Jobo across this region, is not exactly like Kami. Though a good defender, he doesn’t possess the offensive armour of Kami. “The scoring will be shared between Jimmy (Enabu) Ben, Geoff, Sami, Benz and everyone else,” Rugambwa noted. “Scoring is not a worry for me.”

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