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NBL Playoffs: Can Betway Power Dethrone City Oilers?

The National Basketball League best of seven final series are set to tip off on Wednesday as Betway Power take on City Oilers in game one at MTN Indoor Arena in Lugogo.

Beside the inaugural season, City Oilers are the only team to win the national basketball league title at first attempt.

The Oilers have never been at the losing side of the NBL series.

They have won the league championship on five occasions from as many tries. Indomitable.

Setting a legacy: Oilers lifting their fifth crown. Courtesy photo

The team is in the league of its own. They are writing their own history. They have set the bar high, but one record is still at stake and that is the sixth championship.

It’s Power standing in their way, the Betway sponsored side is also seeking for their sixth title to equal the record winners Falcons. Much is at stake.

Familiar Meeting, The Old Foes

In 2013, to win their first championship, City Oilers rolled over Power (Dmark Power then) in the semifinals before seeing off Falcons.

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In 2014, to win their second championship, City Oilers ejected UCU Canons and they eased past Power in the finals.

In 2015, to win their third championship, City Oilers hammered Power in the semis on their way to edging UCU Canons in an entertaining finals.

In 2016, to win their fourth ring, City Oilers swept UCU Canons in the semis before humbling Power in the finals.

Every time Power has stood in Oilers’ line in the playoffs, they have been rolled over. FUBA Images

In 2017, to win their fifth title, City Oilers defeated Betway Power before sweeping KIU Titans.

Literally for the past five years, irrespective of how good Power had been in the regular season, they have been eliminated by the Oilers.

City Oilers path is the railway line, and Oilers are the train, you either go out of their way or choose to die.

They have beaten Power twice in the finals, three in the semis.

Can Power stop them this time round?

Second round action

The 2018 Road to the finals

Power started their regular season by beating City Oilers 56-64. The team won more eight games in a row before falling to Ndejje University Angels who broke their unbeaten record with a 63-52 scoreline.

KCCA panthers shocked Power with a 54-57 inna game played in mukono (UCU) before the team succumbed to their third loss in the regular season to City Oilers in the second round, 57-65.

Power finished the regular season at the too of the log with a 19-3 record. Winning 19 games, losing only 3.

City Oilers came in close second with 18 wins and four losses. KIU Titans (twice), Power and Ndejje are the sides that beat up on City Oilers in the regular season.

Oilers

In the best of three quarterfinals, Power swept Walker Obedi’s Ndejje University Angels, 2-0. The team eased past JKL Dolphins 3-1 in the best of five semis.

City Oilers on the other hand, swept Sharing Youth in the Quarters before coming from a game down to overcome an entertaining KIU Titans in a tight semis, 3-1.

New Signings Lifting Power

After failing to make it into last year’s finals, Power made a couple of changes – notably naming Fahmy Ssebatindira the team captain off Joseph Ikong. It has paid off for now.

Soro (white) has been a great signing.

Veteran player Isaac Afidra became a coach player to help on head Coach Arnold Lando Mchuda.

They were arguably the busiest team in the market, thanks to their reliable sponsor Betway – an online betting platform.

The team brought in UCU Canons pillars in Stephen Wundi and Athieu Madol. They snatched big men in Brian Sivachi and Philip Ameny from Nkumba Marines and Pemba Warriors respectively. The side added Geoffrey Soro to the roster from KIU Titans.

Soro, who was a surplus to requirements last season with KIU, has scored the most points for the team as it stands with 334. Ikong comes close with 249.

Together with Ameny, they have picked the most rebounds for Power this season. Philo has 163, Soro has grabbed 150.

Crumbling City Oilers

Power come into this series as the underdogs, for reasons explained ealier, but if there can be a year that they can dethrone City Oilers, this seems like it.

Coach Juruni giving his notes.

The City Tyre sponsored club has played too much ball than any side in the league -from local engagements, to zone five up to the continent. Fatigue has started to surface.

In addition, their pillars, beside Burundian International Landry Ndikumana, have had many national Team games (Silverbacks) that is James Okello, the talented Jimmy Enabu and country captain Stephen Omony.

Their ‘sixth player’ Jonah Otim left towards the end of the regular season. The bench has failed to deliver to the expectations.

Incredible three years: Jonah left for the states

They didn’t do well in the market if we are to judge as of now with the additions of Jonathan Egau, Brian Mulamba, Jimmy Muhwezi, Josh Johnson and Steven Kigozi have all failed to live to the billing, as compared to those of Power.

City Oilers gave up on Zone five this year, citing lack of enough preparations – and that has to do with their ability on court, leave alone the untold stories of their ‘imports’ being busy at the time.

KIU Titans disciplined them in regular season hands down, they humiliated them in game one of the semifinals, though the rest is history, but they showed the world that this side can be beaten.

However, did Power write any notes?

What they have said:

The Old broom: Stephen Omony in action. FUBA photo

City Oilers’ Stephen Omony speaking to ChimpSports after that game four victory over KIU Titans – “We decided to play better individual defence which culminated in great team defence. Wee had to dig deeper as individuals and personally i just played hard and exploited all the opportunities that came my way.”

Betway Power coach Mchuda, speaking to this website ahead of the game one:

“Game one is always the most important game in any series and it will help us strive better for the consecutive games.”

When asked what Power has to do right, he revealed:

“We just need more of teamwork,coordination and more of mental and physical strength. Play our front court better and also cutting out their perimeter options.

“Better box-out and rebounding, make our free-throws, transition both offence and defence and better individual defence.”

Paul ‘McGyver’ Odong (with the ball). FUBA Images

The Fixture:

Game One (October 3)
City Oilers vs Betway Power, 7 PM

Game Two (October 5)
Betway Power vs City Oilers, 7 PM

Game Three (October 7)
City Oilers vs Betway Power, 5 PM

Game Four (October 10)
Betway Power vs City Oilers, 7 PM

*Game Five (October 17)
City Oilers vs Betway Power, 9 PM

*Game Six (October 19)
Betway Power vs City Oilers, 8 PM

Game Seven (October 24)
City Oilers vs Betway Power, 9 PM

*May be irrelevant if one team accumulates four wins.
All games will be played at the Indoor arena

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