City Oilers Head Coach Mande Juruni has applauded his team’s resilience after clinching their eighth title in the National Basketball league final played on Friday night.
He made the remarks in an interview with Uganda Radio Network briefly after his team defeated Namuwongo blazers 66-64 in a highly contested game seven of the best-of-seven series played at the MTN Indoor Arena in Lugogo.
Juruni said that although some of his players were forced to play with injuries, they displayed a spirited fight to overturn results that went against them after slowing down in game five and six respectively.
The match got off to a good start for City Oilers, who led the opening quarter 21-19 but Namuwongo blazers battled back to lead the second quarter 38-35 and then hung on to win the third quarter 55-48 before succumbing to City Oilers’ expertise in the fourth quarter.
City Oilers Francis Ozolibe was the best on the night after scoring a game-high of 24 points, 12 rebounds, and two assists while Tonny Drileba scored 10 points and nine rebounds. James Okello also contributed nine points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Namuwongo blazers who were coached by Stephen Nyeko had Paul Odongo score their team-high points, 16 points, two rebounds, and two assists while his teammate Christopher Omanye scored 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
Coming into the game, Namuwongo blazers were up in flames after winning games five and six to level the series 3-3 which the Oilers had initially led 3-1. But inside the Lugogo Arena that was filled to capacity, Namuwongo blazers who were looking for their maiden championship failed in their attempt to dare City oilers.
Namuwongo blazers alsi had a number of fans beside their back chanting “we are removing a doctor”, in a contest of trying to dethrone the Oilers that were the defending champions since 2013, but their will didn’t materialize.
Asked whether he felt the pressure at the back after Namuwongo blazers pulled off a comeback in games five and six respectively, Juruni said he never put his players under the pressure but rather believed in them.
“You can’t come to play game seven when you are under pressure otherwise you can’t win, it’s about believing in the players and what you have been building over the years, it I not easy to play under this crowd but experience matters”, Juruni told URN in an interview
But he could barely shy away when commenting on the tough challenge his team faced against a motivated Namuwongo blazer despite having experience of close to a decade while winning finals.
UCU Lady Canons take Women Title.
In the same development, UCU Lady Canons braved JKL Dolphins to win game seven 75-67 in the best-of-seven series and consequently win the Women’s edition of the National basketball league finals. This was UCU’s eighth title although they last won one in 2017.
Just like the blazers, UCU Lady Canons who were the challengers came to game seven boosted after displaying a spectacular performance that saw them make a comeback from trailing to a 3-1 lead to leveling the series 3-3 after winning games five and six respectively.
In action, UCU did not give JKL any chance to hold lead whatsoever, they took the lead in the first quarter 18-16 before stretching the lead to a 44-24 half-time report. They further stretched it 62-46 before finishing 75-67.
Speaking to URN, UCU Coach Nick Natuhereza’s said his team entered the series as underdogs and that few people dared to imagine that UCU could edge JKL, but their passionate fight allowed them to launch a challenge and win the championship.
Natuhereza added that his team struggled in the first games because of their inexperience but managed to acclimatize with the series after playing the first few games and finally, they played to their best.