Two teams, one spot - Who will take the final spot for the BAL 2023?
JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) - One more spot to the Basketball Africa League (BAL) 2023 is up for grabs on the final day of the Road To BAL Elite 16 qualifiers, and East African clubs Urunani and City Oilers, will battle it out at the Ellis Park Arena on Sunday for that last ticket in the Third-Place playoff game.
The two clubs are familiar with each other, having already gone head-to-head in the preliminary qualifiers in Tanzania last month in a duel won by Burundi's Urunani.
Now, in what appears to be the most important game of the season for either team, it's fair to ask, Who will take the last spot for the BAL 2023?
When City Oilers and Urunani faced each other last month in Dar es Salaam, Urunani prevailed 64-58
Both clubs lost intense Semi-Final battles on Saturday, but they will have to lift themselves and use their remaining energy reserves to earn the right to play in the continental showpiece next year.
Urunani, who lost to Mozambique's Ferroviario da Beira (68-62) in Saturday's first Semi-Final, will look to point guard Adonis Filer to spearhead their offence as the Burundian club try to reach the BAL for the first time.
Filer, and American-Rwandan, had a poor scoring game by his standards against Beira on Saturday. The Rwanda international player could only manage nine points in the crunch game.
A player who has also disappeared into the shadows is team captain Landry Ndikumana.
Since his opening-game double-double (18 points and 14 rebounds), Ndikumana has struggled throughout the qualifiers. He did manage nine points when he started off the bench against Beira. An inspired performance from the power forward could help change the fortunes of Urunani.
Uganda's City Oilers will hope Falando Jones can continue being the heartbeat of the team's offence.
Jones kept the Oilers in the game with his 40 points in their 75-69 Semi-Final loss to the Cape Town Tigers. The shooting guard will have to be on song against Urunani in the must-win playoff game, as the Oilers will depend on his production.
Germain Roebuck Jr will be disappointed at his performance in the loss to the Tigers and will need to show up for the Oilers against Burundians at the Ellis Park Arena. The talented American could manage six points and was 3/16 from his field goal attempts.
Roebuck Jr did make up for his scoring woes by crashing 14 boards in the game against the Tigers, but the Oilers will welcome his scoring touch against Urunani.
There is a lot to play for in this Elite 16 fixture, and the two sides, Urunani and the Oilers, are evenly matched, and to pick an outright winner for this game would be difficult as it will most likely go down to the wire.