08 February 2016
UGANDA - Lessons From Oilers-Silvebacks Friendly
The national men's basketball team, Silverbacks, edged league champions City Oilers 88-87 in their buildup match played Tuesday night at Lugogo Indoor Stadium arena.
The match was intended to win over potential Silverbacks sponsors, Ling Long Tyres, whose president, Wang Feng, attended as guest of honor. FELIX EUPAL looks at the major talking points from the match.
Silverbacks have their work cut out
The Zone V qualifiers may still be seven months away but coach Mande Juruni has his work cut out going by how Silverbacks played. First, with all the players at his disposal, Juruni had failed to assemble a squad of 12, forcing skipper Stephen Omony to improvise by adding UPDF Tomahawks' Moses Muhumuza and Daniel Manojo.
Last year, Silverbacks only had a two-week training camp and when the season tips off, players will all be at their respective teams with hardly any national team training. So, the National Team Steering Committee has to ensure that there are more sessions when Silverbacks train as a unit.
Juruni noted that one of the challenges is getting regular playing time for home-based players in order to improve on their shooting abilities. Indeed, the shooting was suspect; of the 35 three-pointer shots attempted, Silverbacks only converted 14.
Oilers good bet for a fourth championship
For a team that has not been practicing and only has friendly pickups, Oilers stretched the Silverbacks to the maximum and they did that without Ben Komakech and Burundian forward, Landry Ndikumana, who is still away with his family.
Team manager Grace Kwizera said they will add two players to reinforce the current squad as the club bids to win a fourth straight championship title.
Drileba is a man to watch
Every season has a player that stands out with his performance but Oilers guard Tony Drileba just keeps getting better with each game. When Oilers signed him, he hadn't played for any team in the league and was a developmental project.
Gradually, they have nurtured him into a lethal project. During last year's Zone V Club Championship in Kigali, Rwanda, Drileba was the team's silent weapon, coming off the bench to terrorize opponents with his three pointers.
Now, he has garnered the courage to even take drives to the hoop through traffic and even doesn't seem fazed by pressure moments, which explains his 13 points in 17 minutes he spent on court against Silverbacks. This season he should be the player to look out for.
The veteran Silverbacks' skipper was yet again the star performer of the night, finishing with 26 points, which included six three-pointers. He led by example at Afro-basket Championship last year and could still be the kingpin this season.
However, he is at the tail end of his career with age catching up on him. Juruni should have an understudy for him; otherwise filling the dent when he is gone would be a hard task.