03 October, 2023
26 November
Game Report
to read

City Oilers first team to book 2024 BAL slot in Joburg


JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) - Nine-time Ugandan champions City Oilers are through to next year's Basketball Africa League (BAL).

The Mandy Juruni-coached Oilers played for a 72-61 win over Burundi's Dynamo in an East African derby in the first Semi-Final of the East Division Elite 16 set to conclude on Sunday in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Robison Opong and Titus Odeke made crucial points to carry the Kampala-based side through to the 2024 BAL, the former dropping 5 of 9 on threes to emerge top scorer with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists. 

On the day that City Oilers leading scorer Parrish Petty was 0-for-5 from long range, Robinson Opong finished 5-for-9 from beyond the arc

In a rather slow start, it took both sides more than 2 minutes to break the deadlock with Dynamo losing 5 of their 6 chances on the free -throw line and being punished by Robinson Opong and Parrish Petty with back-to-back treys and a layup from the latter as Oilers led 8-1 forcing Dynamo into a timeout. 

The Burundi champions couldn't find their rhythm and with 2.30 to play, they found themselves trailing 16-3, Israel Otobo making the only other basket for the Olivier Ndayiragije-coached side in a 19-5 run in the first quarter.

A 7-2 run in the opening four minutes of the second quarter saw Dynamo cut their deficit to 9, the difference remaining at 24-15 and further down to 7 at the conclusion of the quarter as the two sides headed to the locker rooms with the Uganda champions leading 31-24.

Ndayiragije's charges went on a five-point streak to come to within a basket of Oilers in the opening two minutes of the second half but that rally was soon put to a stop, Opong and Titus Odeke contributing 9 from behind the arc to reclaim the Ugandan side's advantage at 44-30 with more than five minutes to play. 

Gilbert Nijimbere weaved through Oilers' defence for back-to-back layups that brought his side deficit to 10, a difference that remained until the last 25 seconds of the quarter, Bienvenu Richard Ndikuriyo knocking a three that saw the game head to the final period with his side 7 points down at 53-46. 

City Oilers are through to the BAL for the second time in a row

Brian Irakoze's hot hands had the deficit at 4 in the opening 30 seconds of the final stanza as Dynamo refused to go away with Deshaun Lamar orchestrated another run that brought Dynamo closer at 58-55.

Odeke was, however, not having any of that as he bagged back-to-back treys and an alley-oop as Oilers went on a 12-0 run to restore a healthy lead at 70-55.

TURNING POINT: Titus Odeke was heavily involved in pulling Oilers away when, on two different occasions, Dynamo came threateningly close. Shooting 4-of-6 from behind the arc to finish with 14 points, his contribution alongside Robinson Opong's could not be wished away. 

HERO: Robinson Opong takes the cake as he contributed a game-high 17 points, 15 off of threes that hurt Dynamo. 

STATS DON'T LIE: 12 turnovers for Dynamo against 5 for Oilers in the first half told the story of a team that struggled to take care of the ball in crucial moments. In the end, the Burundians turned the ball over 23 times and missed 11 of 19 free throws only to lose by a similar number. 

City Oilers controlled the match from the opening tip, leading by as many as 15 points 

BOTTOM LINE: Dynamo will be looking to win the Third-Place match set for Sunday and book the last ticket to the 2024 BAL while Oilers are out to keep a clean slate by winning the Final. 

WHAT WAS SAID: "It was an important win so we treated this as our final game as we didn't want to come back for another fight in the third place. I am happy for my teammates and I for having qualified. 

"We have been getting better with each match and this will be carried forward into the final as we look to keep the winning streak. The job, for us, is not done. We cannot win a match with such a mindset so we come back hungry and ready to fight." - Robinson Opong, City Oilers shooting guard.  

"We turned the ball over a lot, and in crucial moments too. We also missed a lot on the free-throw line and that saw us chase the game from the start which is not a good way to play. 

"We came close twice but couldn't master the momentum to build on that. It was difficult to defend their shooters too. We come back for the final match on Sunday with these lessons and fight for the last slot to BAL," Brian Irakoze, Dynamo BBC point guard.