James Okello Pleads His Innocence After Ejection
City Oilers Power Forward James Okello insists he did not slap the referee as it is alleged in the aftermath of his side’s loss to UCU Canons.
Okello was ejected out of the thrilling NBL tie with 07:56 to play in the third quarter on Sunday at YMCA court in Wandegeya.
It is said that Okello slapped Umpire Louis Malinga, accusations Okello has since denied in an exclusive interview with The-SportsNation.
Okello said that he went to the referee to draw his attention that he was bleeding, and he doesn’t believe that his approach on the referee was in no way savage or tantamount to a send off.
“We were on defence, still fumbling with the ball, and I got elbowed in the face, and I don’t want to say that it was intentional because the other player was also fighting for the ball like I was,” Okello narrated his angle.
“I touched my face and I felt it was all clear at first, we went on offense, but then I felt blood was sipping out of my face. I wanted to call the ref but we lost possession so I had to first go and secure the ball because it was difficult for him (referee) to stop play with UCU on offense.
“We got the ball, I called the referee to stop the game but he couldn’t hear me so I had to touch on his shoulder, and requested him to stop the game so that I can get medical attention.
“I wanted to get out of the game to get treatment. But then I heard Coach Nick (Nicholas Natuhereza, UCU) shouting that ‘you can’t slap the ref.”
“I just walked away and out, and I returned after received treatment with a bandage wrapped around my head. Told coach Mande (Juruni) that I am now feeling fine and I wanted to be brought back in the game. But coach told me that I had been Ejected. I was puzzled and furious, I had to go to the officials table to consult. I was told that I had slapped the referee, I stormed out of the area very annoyed.
“But why would I slap the referee, what had he done to me? I called him twice but he was not hearing. I think coach Nick was a catalyst to that decision.”
UCU Canons went on to win the game 58-44, inflicting a second loss to City Oilers who lost to Nam Blazers in the opener.
Okello despite missing about 18 minutes, finished as Oilers highest scorer with a double double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
It remains to be seen if FUBA disciplinary committee will take further action on Okello.
Coach Mande Juruni feels that Okello is being targeted after he got his marching orders for the second game in a row after the win over Power.
“James Okello got hit he was bleeding and he came to the ref aggressively telling him to stop the game he is bleeding. The ref instead ejected him,” Juruni described the event.
“Well even if the player is shouting at you the best thing to do is try to talk to him and calm him down and if he insist then give him a technical foul but don’t eject him for that.
“I thought the ref was so wrong and the ejection has happened twice in a row same player and both ejections are so bad. I feel like he is being targeted.”