By Charles Mutebi
NBL Finals, Men: City Oil 74 Falcons 62 (City Oil win series 4-3, crowned champions) City Oil got their plans all wrong.
The men’s National Basketball League (NBL) championship was not supposed to arrive for at least another two years. Put bluntly, it was not supposed to be this easy for a club marking its first season in the elite NBL.
“We did not expect to win the title in our first three years in the NBL,” club director Grace Kwizera told New Vision Sport. “At the beginning of this season, our focus was just to reach the playoffs,” said City Oil General Manager Silva Rugwamba.
Fortunately for City Oil, sometimes low expectations end with high returns. And on Friday night at Lugogo, the newest member of the men’s NBL also became the newest champion after defeating record winners Falcons 74-62 in Game 7 of the best-of-seven Playoffs Finals.
Kami Kabange, in possibly his last game for City Oil, showed why he has been the NBL’s best player in 2013 with a game-high 27 points, playing all four quarters nonstop.
Jimmy Enabu also proved why he has been the best guard in NBL this year with a bold and versatile performance that yielded 20 points.
Enabu was serenaded with chants of “MVP, MVP” when he went to the line in the dying moments of this match, which City Oil led from wireto- wire. The same chants were showered on Kabange, albeit with less intensity from the capacity crowd, which had whites, Chinese, Asians in addition to the locals.
Ramadan Arou added 10 points for City Oil, whose coach Mandy Juruni won back-to-back championships after leading the Riham Warriors to last year’s title.
The Falcons were led by Phillip Ameny with 15 points and 12 rebounds while Stephen Omony and Ramadan Abdullah added 15 and 14 points respectively. However, for the second successive season, the Falcons have lost in finals - making it three defeats out of their last three Finals appearances.
The club that built its unequalled legacy on dominating Finals has lost its bite and there are rumours of a mass player exodus next season. “They are just rumours,” countered Omony, who congratulated City Oil as “worthy champions”. Omony added: “The Falcons will be back.” Needless to say, the champions will be waiting.