Uganda’s Basketball giants City Oilers have requested FIBA Africa to withdraw from the Basketball Africa League Qualifiers.
City Oilers were due to take part in the Elite 16 Round of the BAL Qualifiers due December 2-7 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
However, after a concerning new variant of Covid-19, Omicron, was detected in South Africa, the Oilers have had a change in mind.
“We wrote to FIBA to express our concerns,” City Oilers Manager Hajji Mohammed Santur told The-SportsNation.
“We wrote to them and explained our reasons that we are not taking part, we cannot risk travelling to South Africa and put our players at risk. It’s the team’s safety first. We are yet to get response from them at the moment.”
The new Covid19 variant that has since spread rapidly through the Gauteng province in South Africa has been a major concern for World Health Organisation.
Oilers had qualified to the Elite Round of 16 after a successful campaign at the BAL Division East 2022 Qualifiers held in October in Tanzania.
The Mandy Juruni coached side beat Malawi’s Brave Heats (73-43) and Tanzania’s Kurusani Heats (70-49) to top Group D at the National Indoor Stadium in Dar Es Salaam.
Earlier last month, FIBA Africa held the Elite 16 round draw in Abidjan.
Oilers were pitted in Group H2 alongside Ferroviario da Beira (Mozambique), Ulinzi Warriors (Kenya) and wild card Cobra Sport (South Sudan).
The Format of Qualification:
There are four groups of four teams at the Elite 16 round – Two groups per division.
These four teams in each group will play against each other, and the teams that finish in the top-two places of each of the 4 groups will advance to the second round of the qualifiers where they will play semi-finals, finals and a third-place game.
The winners of the semi-finals and winners of the third-place game will qualify to the second edition of the BAL.
The league champions of Angola, Egypt, Nigeria Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia qualified automatically to the final tournament, where they will be joined by 6 other teams that will have made it from the qualifiers.