Friday, July 15
•Nabisunsa Girls 30-88 KCCA Leopards
•Nam Blazers 63-61 City Oilers
Saturday, July 16
•JKL Lady Dolphins Vs Miracle Ravens – 10am
•Our Saviour Vs Victoria University – 12pm
•Angels Vs Nkumba Lady Marines – 2pm
•Falcons Vs Nam Blazers – 4pm
•JKL Dolphins Vs Ndejje University Angels – 6pm
Nam Blazers recovered from a slow start to overcome seven-time defending champions City Oilers in a Tusker-Lite sponsored NBL thriller at Lugogo.
Oilers, seeking to avenge their first round 72-65 loss, were on course when they led 27-7 after the first quarter in a game watched by a record crowd this season.
But the Blazers remained in character and slowly got their rhythm before trailing by just two points entering the final frame.
And they stamped their authority on proceedings in the fourth quarter in which they looked more aggressive in both ends to clinch a needed win.
Amisi ‘Carmelo’ Saidi tallied a double double of 21 points and 14 rebounds while Collins Kasujja made two clutch steals to deny Oilers any chance of a comeback.
Ceaser Kizito top scored for Oilers with 15 points, Jimmy Enabu and James Okello had 12 and 11 points respectively, with the latter adding 18 rebounds.
Drilleba, Lumanyika Injuries Derail Oilers
City Oilers missed two of their most integral players in Tonny Drilleba and Ivan Lumanyika in that loss against Nam Blazers.
And coach Mandy Juruni will feel that it could have been a different story if the duo played on Friday.
Drilleba, without doubt, is the league’s best three-point shooter and has averaged double figures in scoring this season.
He sprained his ankle while with the National team in Kigali at the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
Lumanyika on the other hand, is the team’s top rebounder and averaging 11.9.
His void could be seen after leaving the side with just two recognisable big men in a half fit James Okello and Francis Azolibe who cannot control his emotions.
And Nam Blazers rightly targeted Azolibe and for an umpteenth time, the Nigerian fouled out.
Earlier, all looked well when Oilers controlled the tempo and manhandled Blazers to build a 21-0 run to take control of the game.
But Azolibe was quick to reach four fouls, and Juruni took him off precautionary for an extended time before halftime.
It’s that window of opportunity that Blazers utilised, going big thereafter as City Oilers proved no match in a game they made 28 turnovers.
Oilers only managed to collect just seven points from their bench and that speaks volumes on how important they need to be healthy as we approach the business end of the season.
They will need Davis Christopher Siaji to return as soon as he can from the Kenyan 3*3 team, while frienge players will be required to step up going forward.
It’s the fourth loss for Oilers, and if Nam Blazers can win their remaining games, Oilers will miss going into the playoffs as a number one team.
Stacked Blazers Dare To Dream
After a slow start, coach Stephen Nyeko Escodata made some adjustments. Starting with the withdrawal of the two Kenyan additions – Ken Wachira and Ariel Okall – who had struggled to hit the ground running.
Paul ‘McGyver’ Odong and Joseph Ikong, two players who have been at the receiving end of Oilers during their time at Power, changed the flow of the game when they were brought on and Blazers got the things going.
They were patient on either side of the court and that gave Carmelo and Dudus Monoja to contribute significantly.
Carmelo was super animated as he scored a couple of jumpers on Azolibe as the Nigerian proved a no match.
Kasujja made good contributions down the stretch with timely steals as Oilers tried to tie the game, while Okall added 14 and 6 rebounds.
Blazers got 30 points off the bench, and they afforded to leave out Chris Omanye (due to foreign-players slots) while Syrus Kiviiri and Chuol Nyuot are the other players who never played.
Nam Blazers’ biggest problem will be on how to assemble their pieces together, which is a good headache to have, if all those players can show up day in and day out.
Playoffs ball may come different but this win is a big confidence booster and they can now believe that they are in right position to end Oilers dominance.