City Oilers by far still the team to beat as 2017 NBL season curtains rise

NBL Opening day fixtures

  • W: A1 Challenge vs. UCU Lady Canons – 6:00pm
  • M: City Oilers vs. Power – 8:00pm
© Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE
Power’s Isaac Afidra evades Landry Ndikumana’s defense during in Game 3 of last season’s final.

The 2017 National Basketball League will tip-off on Friday, May 19 at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium.

As expected, last season’s best two teams of the Men’s division – City Oilers and Power will face off in the season opening game.

The Oilers are considered to be the top team in the NBL and have lived up to that billing for the past three seasons – winning as many championships and extending the dominance to the region.

New Additions

After the exit of Kami Kabange who delivered the four championships and a regional title, City Oilers went in for Joseph Chuma, James Deng and vet Steven Omony.

While Deng and Chuma are still growing their game on both ends of the floor, Omony is an accomplished player who can do a bit of everything on the court with ultimate comfort and confidence.

The National Team captain is looked at as the replacement for Kabange but he does not see it that way and is quick to draw the difference.

“I don’t look at myself as a Kami replacement, I’m Steve and he’s Kami. He did a lot of things for this club and I’m here to make my contribution,” Omony told Kawowo Sports.

Omony says despite the side dominating the league since their promotion, it’s still priority and they will not take it lightly.

“It all starts here (in the league). We are not going to take the league lightly. The guys have won it four times and we want to win it the fifth time and we will take each game as it comes.”

© Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE
City Oilers’ Landry Ndikumana will be dominant this term.

Time for Ndikumana to shine

Landry Ndikumana is by far the best big man in country.

Over the past couple of seasons, he has been overshadowed by Kami and at the same time adjusting to the game in Uganda.

Now with the two barricades out of the Burundian’s way and given his skill set, there could be no better time for the power forward to shine than this season.

Ndikumana’s statistical trends this season should not be surprising as he will barely find opposition to match him at the perimeter or in the paint with Brian Ssentongo, James Okello clearing some space for him.

The Back Court

City Oilers boast of the best back court in the country especially on the offensive end.

While they will start the season without Ben Komakech (Groin), Daniel Jjuuko will still deliver at the point with ease. The shooting ability of Tony Drileba, Jonah Otim and Geoffrey Omondi from the wings combined with their lock down defense makes Oilers’ back court seem unmatched.

© Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE
Jimmy Enabu is the best two-way guard in the country

It requires memory rather than imagination to believe that Jimmy Enabu, a few years ago, struggled to find playing time at Power. His growth as a player for the years he has been at City Oilers has made him a complete two-way guard who can take over games, score from anywhere on the floor and make some absolutely ridiculous shots.

With those hot shooting options, a diverse offensive attack and an effective defense, City Oilers are not just a championship-caliber team, but they are actually by far still the team to beat. With the talent they have, it is not merely a chance of winning every game, but a near-certainty. Probably, only profligacy or an act of God can stop them.

Basketball is imperfect, and every team has flaws but it’s difficult to find one in City Oilers and the off season so far suggested they are good for number five. This may be a statement of the bleeding obvious, but it’s valid nonetheless.

City Oilers Squad

Back Court: Ben Komakech, Jimmy Enabu, Daniel Jjuuko, Tony Drileba, Jonah Otim, Geoffrey Omondi

Front Court: Landry Ndikumana, Steven Omony, Brian Ssentongo, James Okello, Joseph Chuma and James Deng.