Sunday, November 27
•3rd Place: Urunani 62-71 City Oilers
•Final: Beira 71-81 Cape Town Tigers
City Oilers have finally broken the Basketball Africa League jinx after beating Urunani to book the remaining ticket for the event due next year in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Oilers won 71-61 in a third place match during the Elite 16 Division East encounter at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa.
A day earlier, Oilers had lost their semifinal encounter with Cape Town 75-69, to set up for a do-or-die encounter with Urunani (Burundi) who also lost the semi 68-62 against Ferroviario Beira (Mozambique).
Cape Town Tigers (South Africa) and Beira qualified for BAL on Saturday for winning their semifinal ties, before the former won the final on Sunday with a 81-71 win.
In the playoff match, Oilers led 17-12 after the first quarter but their lead was cut to just a point at halftime.
But Oilers remained in character and held on to win by 9 points thanks immensely to a double double of 20 points and 11 rebounds from Germaine Roeburg.
Fayed Baale scored 12 points, five rebounds and as many assists while Ngor Barnaba added 12 points.
Timajh Parker (10) and Guibert Nijimbere (17) scored in double figures while former City Oilers player Landry Ndikumana and former KIU Titans guard Michael Bwanga managed just nine and eight points respectively.
The win is revenge best served for Oilers who lost to Urunani in the first phase of qualifiers (Road to BAL) 64-58 in Dar Es Salaam last month.
It’s a big sigh of relief and a remarkable achievement for the Oilers who have dominated the local scene since joining top-flight.
“I am happy and proud of my players. The work that we have put in over the last three years has finally paid off,” said Oilers coach Mande Juruni.
“In-game I looked at my bench a bit more. In the Semi-Final against the Tigers, our top guys played heavy minutes, and you could see they were not at their best. So we needed guys to come off the bench, and they gave us good minutes.
“The win means a lot for our country. Ugandan basketball has been on the rise at the national team level. Now we are going to play in a top league in Africa.”
In the BAL inaugural edition, Oilers went past the Road To BAL qualification round but were stopped at the Elite 16 after defeats to Patriots (Rwanda) and Maputo (Mozambique) in the 2019.
In 2021, for the 2022 BAL season, Oilers qualified past the Road to BAL stage in Tanzania but withdrew from the Elite Round due to Amicron Virus in South Africa.
The BAL, is Africa’s premier men’s basketball league, an equivalent of CAF Champions League in Football.
The league is a joint effort between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and International Basketball Federation (FIBA) with sponsorship from Nike, Air Jordan and Pepsi.
The final tournament next year in Kigali will attract 12 teams, with six coming from qualifiers while the other six are champions of Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia who qualify automatically.
The Six teams that have booked BAL tickets from Qualifiers are:
- SLAC (Guinea)
- ABC Fighters (Ivory Coast)
- Stade Malien (Mali)
- Cape Town Tigers (South Africa)
- Ferroviário da Beira (Mozambique)
- City Oilers (Uganda)