Saturday, April 29
•Ferroviario Beira (Mozambique) 76-101 Petro de Luanda (Angola)
•City Oilers (Uganda) 70-72 Al Ahly (Egypt)
What a story it could have been!
City Oilers almost pulled off an historical win after a remarkable recovery against hosts Al Ahly at the ongoing Basketball Africa League.
The Ugandan representatives cut a 33-point deficit down to two points and could have won it on the final play of the game!
But on the dramatic last possession, Oilers fluffed a possible three-point play before the final buzzer sounded.
It was a tense ending to a final quarter that started with the Egyptian champions leading 61-36.
And on the flip side of the coin, the Oilers will feel hard done by the shot-clock malfunction down the stretch.
After James Justice absorbed pressure to make both of his free-throws and put Oilers within two, Al Ahly failed to execute on offense at the other end with about 20 seconds on the clock.
The hosts’ Anunwa Omot was caught in possession at mid-court, and after the Oilers made a clear steal, and with less than five seconds on the clock, there was utter confusion when the shot-clock buzzer sounded.
That, realistically denied the Oilers a chance to score from the steal.
But after Video review, the officials rightly gave Oilers possession and clock was reset to about two seconds.
Oilers coach Mande Juruni feasted on the opportunity and called a Timeout to design a final play.
On return to court, Germaine Roebuck inbounded to Falando Jones but after going up, he couldn’t get a clear shot and decided to pass to a free Titus Lual.
And like you have sensed it, the two seconds had expired by the time Lual went up for a three.
There were no celebrations from Al Ahly players rather than a sigh of relief, deep down knowing and appreciating the gallant effort from the Oilers.
Falando sunk his head down, contemplating on what he should have done better, and the same can be said of the rest of the squad before they disappeared to the rest rooms.
Germaine Roebuck finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds while Falando and Justice contributed 15 and 11 on the night Oilers will look back with mixed feelings.
Al Ahly had Anunwa (17) and Omar Araby (10) score in double figures.
Away from the failure to fire on the last second, Oilers had other shortcomings including missing 10 of the 21 free-throws not to mention a disastrous third quarter where they managed just 9 points.
It’s two losses from as many games for Oilers who lost the opener on Thursday against Petro de Luanda, but the side will take much confidence in their must-win remaining three games.
They face SLAC (Guinea) on Tuesday before CFV Beira (Mozambique) and Cape Town (South Africa) on Friday and Saturday respectively as they hope to finish among the top four in the six-team Nile Conference group to storm the lucrative playoffs in Kigali, Rwanda next month.