KAMPALA. There was a school of thought during the National Basketball League regular season that five-time champions City Oilers were struggling for motivation after completing the first round with an 8-3 record.
They however followed it up by losing only one game in the second round to finish as second seeds with an 18-4 record behind Betway Power. But as they start their best-of-seven playoff finals against Power at the Lugogo MTN Arena this evening the motivation should be clear. Win the series and equal Falcons record of six titles or suffer a surprise loss and be overtaken by Power with whom they are level on five titles each.
“Every game is different but we always react when we are pushed in a difficult situation,” Oilers power forward James Okello responded when asked about the team’s motivation during their semifinal against KIU.
They overcame KIU Titans 3-1 in the semifinals. Last season they also swept the Titans 4-0 in the final despite the latter being competitive in all four games.
Power, the team they play today in the Tusker Lite sponsored best-of-seven playoff series has also suffered similar punishment.
They were swept 4-0 the first time they faced City Oilers in 2014.
They managed to win a game two years later as a Paul Odong inspired Power tied the series at 1-1 before the Oilers won the subsequent three games for a 4-1 victory.
“We have a better roster now,” Power’s Joseph Ikong who featured in 2011 when they last won the league title stated when reminded about the past final meetings.
Geoffrey Soro and Stephen Wundi have shown all season how valuable their addition were to the team.
The pair scored 22 and 21 points respectively in game four as the Betway sponsored Power clinched a 3-1 series win.
It is for series like this however that their additions will be expected to count.
The fans expected to throng Lugogo will in the meantime hope Power go at least one better than in 2016 and make a more competitive final. That is how ruthless the Oilers have been.