City Oilers face Sharing Youth today in the National Basketball League at YMCA in a game which should be a routine win for the four-time defending champions.
This will be Oilers’ eighth fixture, but they have already lost as many games as they did the entire regular season last year – three.
However, for Oilers to lose to Ndejje University Angels 74-77 on Sunday points to a fundamental problem despite their recent victory over KIU Titans. First of all, Oilers appear to be losing their consistency, a quality that made them stand out.
On top of that, for the first time in three years, Oilers lost a game in which they scored less than 50 points.
UCU beat them 61-48 a few weeks after losing to Power 56-60. Oilers coach Mandy Juruni said recently that they have not been as effective both offensively and defensively thus far as they were in previous seasons.
But John Omondi, the assistant coach of Ndejje, noted that without Kami Kabange, Oilers have lost their punch. Kabange was Oilers’ leading post player for four years, before he returned to play in the Rwandese league early this year. Kabange was a pivot of Oilers’ play.
Not only did he average 20 points a game, making him an offensive threat, he was also instrumental defensively. Because of his efficiency in rebounding, Kabange helped in Oilers’ transition by releasing Jimmy Enabu on quick breaks, which hurt opponents, according to Ndejje coach Walker Obedi. Oilers’ guards failed to score in double figures against Ndejje, including star-man Enabu. He scored only seven points.
Small forward Stephen Omony scored 18 to provide some shine to Oilers’ first-ever loss to Ndejje in the top-flight. But clearly, he is yet to really fit into the team, to ensure that they can be more consistent as in previous seasons.
Perhaps, after so much success both locally and internationally, it is believed Oilers are suffering a hang-over. Juruni said they cannot keep hanging on past achievements. Juruni added that having played so much basketball last season, they did not get ample rest.
For what it is worth, the Sharing team Oilers are facing recently beat Ndejje 67-66. While Sharing could be small in pedigree, they are not in heart.