- Game 1: Friday, January 5
- City Oilers vs. KIU Titans – 7:00pm, Lugogo
Last year, KIU Titans crushed the door to make the National Basketball League Playoffs finals for the first time.
The buzz among the players, coach, manager, faithfuls and neutrals alike was visible when they ejected Warriors on the night of November 19, 2017. In fact their captain Sudi Ulanga broke down.
Titans face City Oilers in the seven-game series starting on Friday night at Lugogo Indoor Stadium and one recurrent thought is basketball will be on the show as both sides are relatively patient on offense.
How will KIU turn out?
KIU Titans main offensive threat is in their back court. Chris Omanye, Michael Bwanga and Suudi Ulanga as well as Denis Balungu off the bench lead KIU on the the offensive end but they are not lacking on the inside as well.
Like their opponents, Titans like to run a set offense that tries to look for the best shot and will likely steak to that coupled with a few breaks given the opportunity.
With the presence of Ethienne Kazungu, the busy body of Geoffrey Soro and the young Oscar Muge, KIU have an option of going down to pound Landry Ndikumana and James Okello.
In Sudi Ulanga, Titans have someone who can cook from deep. Ulanga is an effective player in the half court and if Ethienne Kazungu, Geoffrey Soro and Oscar Muge can set some screens for the guard who has evolved from just a ‘catch and shoot’ player on one who can take on his man on the drive, he will be a weapon.
Chris Omanye, Michael Bwanga and Denis Balungu could also get Canons points from down town.
If the post season is anything to by, KIU Titans seem to have taken care of their season long defensive problem especially transition defense.
In fact coach Brian Wathum will prefer his zone defense against City Oilers who in Landry Ndikumana have probably the smartest big in the league coupled with steely James Okello and Stephen Omony if he chooses to go into the post.
Wathum will set up his zone to keep Oilers’ bigs away from the basket. However, if Ben Komakech, Stephen Omony and Jimmy Enabu connect from the 3-point line, the Titans may be forced out of the zone to match up.
How KIU switch defenses will be key in limiting the best team in the league coached by the best coach in the country.
How will Oilers turn out?
City Oilers have the most offensive options of the two sides. The four-time and defending champions can score on transition, go down to their bigs or have Komakech, Omony and Enabu score from 3-point range and occasionally from Tonny Drileba and Daniel Jjuko.
Landry Ndikumana, the Oilers’ first offensive option in the post may find it tough to work from his office against KIU whose interior defense is quite solid. The Burundian forward will for the first time in succession have a brain rather than just a body to play against when he goes face to face with Ethienne Kazungu.
However, key to Oilers offense is the passing ability and patience of the team that gets players open for shots and easy looks at the basket.
Without doubt even if KIU lock the interior, Oilers will find a way of unlocking it. In Steven Omony, Oilers have a big who can do a little bit of everything with the ball and comfortable inside out. The National Team captain could be a thorn in KIU’s defensive set up.
Jimmy Enabu gives Oilers the pace with his quick feet and long hands. The guard’s drives to the basket will unsettle Titans’ defense and earn him a few trips to the line.
The exposure and experience of Daniel Jjuuko, Jonah Otim and Tonny Drileba may give the defending champions an edge on the back court offensively in the second unit.
Any coach would naturally direct their defensive strategy at limiting Sudi Ulanga, Michael Bwanga as well as Chris Omanye.
Jimmy Enabu, Steven Omony and Jonah Otim will have some work on their hands throughout the series.
Of course Kazungu, Soro and Muge will require a lot defensive effort from City Oilers front court.
Series Schedule (All Games at Lugogo Indoor Stadium)
- Game 1: Friday, January 5 – 7:00pm
- Game 2: Sunday, January 7 – 5:30pm
- Game 3: Wednesday, January 10 – 7:00pm
- Game 4: Friday, January 12 – 7:00pm
- Game 5*: Sunday, January 14 – 5:30pm
- Game 6*: Wednesday, January 17 – 7:00pm
- Game 7*: Friday, January 19 – 7:00pm