One by one, City Oilers slipped into a big ‘basin’ containing ice on Monday night as they hardly have time to recover for the National Basketball League seven-game final series.
Knowing that Game One against five-time champions Tiger Head Power is tonight at YMCA, beating UCU Canons a few moments earlier was only a stepping stone. No need to celebrate. “This is a unique feeling (to win three elimination games), never felt like this,” coach Mandy Juruni, watching his players dive into the ice to get rid of any niggles, told Daily Monitor.
Oilers recovered from a 2-0 deficit, winning three games in a row, including Monday’s 71-61 victory, to clinch their series 3-2 and earn a chance to win back-to-back titles. “Finals are not physical. It’s going to be mental,” reigning MVP Kami Kabange, 11 points in the decider, said. Power finished their 3-2 semifinal series victory over Warriors on Sunday. Kabange started the series against UCU bearing the burden, almost entirely. Two-time MVP Ben Komakech took over to dominate on the comeback trail. The guard fell one assist short of triple double while scoring 17 points and picking 10 rebounds to show that the bothersome kneels are fully healed. Jimmy Enabu had 22. Now, Komakech will face a team he played for from 2008-2013, winning three titles. “I was signed to help this team win a championship and we are doing that,” Komakech noted.
Power will be hungry having last won the title in 2011. That is also the last time they reached the finals.
“Our target was always to get to the finals and now we are,” Joseph Ikong, who averaged just under 20 points against Warriors, said.
His coach Bernes Ankunda will hope all share the burden.
“Everyone must believe in the other and trust ourselves,” Ankunda said. “We signed experienced player for this.”
Philip Ameny and Abdullahi Ramadhan joined from Falcons for this moment. It’s now here and the onus is on them to hold off Oilers.
UCU canons’ poor play-offs record
2007: Led 1-0 but lost 2-1 to Falcons in semis (LOST)
2008: Led 1-0 before losing 2-1 to Power in semis (LOST)
2009: After forcing a Game 5, Warriors beat UCU 3-2 in semis (LOST)
2011: Trailed 2-1, forced a Game 5, before losing 3-2 to Warriors in semis (LOST)
2012: Won their first series, beating Power 2-1 in the inaugural quarterfinals (WON)
2012: Led 2-1 but lost 3-2 to Warriors in the semis (LOST)
2013: Lost 2-1 to Falcons in quarterfinals (LOST)
2014: Came from behind to beat Falcons 2-1 in the quarterfinals (WON)
2014: UCU took a 2-0 lead in the semis against champions City Oilers and lost 3-2 (LOST)
SOURCE: Daily Monitor