03 October, 2023
26 November
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City Oilers out to dominate in Joburg as East Division action gets underway


KAMPALA (Uganda) - Barely a month after lifting a record-extending ninth Ugandan national basketball league title, City Oilers are looking to stamp their authority in Africa when they take on seven other teams for a slot in the 2024 Basketball Africa League (BAL). 

Oilers, no strangers to the Elite 16, head out to Johannesburg for the competition slated for November 21 to 26, baring enough experience to carry them past a group B that has regulars Ferroviaro da Bera (Mozambique), COSPN of Madagascar and JBC of Zimbabwe. 

The top three teams in the 8-team competition join the three teams qualified from the West Division Elite 16 and six other sides that had direct tickets to the BAL Final 12 for the 2024 extravaganza set to be hosted across four cities. 

City Oilers are set to face Ferroviario da Beira for the second straight time in the Elite 16

So dominant are they on home soil that the NBL title last month was the ninth, consecutively, their closest competitor being Falcons who last tasted championship victory in 2007, that being their sixth gong, tied with Dmark Power on the title front. 

The side has previously made it to the BAL final 12, playing in the Nile Conference. They, however, found the going tough finishing bottom of the pile with a 1-4 record to rule themselves out of the playoffs.

"I thought we competed well in the tournament for our first time. We had two top teams in the BAL tournament playing against us and we lost close games against such teams," coach Mandy Juruni told FIBA.basketball.

Mandy Juruni is seen addressing the Oilers during a time-out team talk

In the inaugural edition, Oilers went past the Road to BAL qualification round but were stopped in the Last Eight after an 81-59 defeat to Patriots of Rwanda in the Semi-Finals and 74-57 to Ferroviaro de Maputo of Mozambique in the Third-Place playoff match to miss out on the final 12 hosted in Rwanda in 2021. 

In the 2021 Road to BAL season, Oilers qualified past the Group Phase in Tanzania but withdrew from the Elite 16 round due to the Amicron Virus in South Africa.

Juruni's side finally broke the BAL jinx in 2023 after finishing third in the East Division of the Elite 16 to play in the Nile Conference to exit the competition with one win against Mozambique's Ferroviario da Beira. 

As they head out to South Africa for yet another shot at the Final 12, the goal is to sail through and correct their shortcomings in the BAL proper.

"Overall we looked at our performances and looked at areas where we needed to get better and that has influenced a lot on signing players for these qualifiers and hopefully the Final 12," the tactician continued. 

Former City Oilers guard Falando Jones is seen in action during the Nile Conference played in Cairo

Speaking to local publication Daily Monitor, coach Juruni said, "We have to build the club to start dominating at continental level."

He will rely on the services of Jimmy Enabu, Fayed Bbaale and Titus Lual who dominated during last month's playoff final against Titans in the Ugandan league, among others.