In the opening game of the National Basketball League Playoffs finals, UCU Canons did an excellent job of limiting City Oilers bigs especially Landry Ndkumana.
However, on Friday night the Burundian big man got off to a flying start getting his rhythm early to propelled Oilers to a 78-73 in Game 2 of the seven-game series.
Canons won the end to end first quarter 24-16 with Titus Lual scoring more than half of the team’s points. The center netted 13 points in the opening ten minutes of the game.
Oilers, paced by Ndikumana who was unstoppable inside and out, edged the second quarter of the entertaining game, 22-20, but the university side maintain the lead heading into the long break. The big man had 17 points at the half with 9 points coming during the second quarter.
Oilers rally in the 3rd Quarter
David Deng who had a better outing for the Canons laid-in to stretch UCU’s lead to 8 points early in the third quarter.
However, Oilers stayed locked in and raised their defense forcing the young Canons into six turnovers and limiting them to just 11 points. At the other end, Oilers ground to 20 points and built a 3-point lead (58-55) with player of the game James Okello scoring 9.
Canons fall short despite early 4th Quarter surge
UCU Canons erased the deficit and took the lead with a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter but Oilers were not fazed by the deafening noise of the underdog supporters inside the full to capacity Lugogo Indoor Stadium.
Okello and Ndikumana combined for 10 points in four minutes to pull Oilers within a point (68-69) with 4:15 minutes to play. Jimmy Enabu then put Oilers in the lead with a lay-up and Tony Drileba pulled up for a jumper to take the lead to 3 points (72-69).
Fadhil Chuma was sent to the line with 2:06 play and the big man hit one of the throws. At the other end, Okello bullied his way up to take Oilers’ lead to 4 points before UCU’s diminutive guard Fayed Bbale weaved through their defence to lay-up.
Okello hit a jump shot the lead to 4 again and later iced the game with a free throw.
Ndikumana poured in game-high 27 points and picked 7 rebounds to lead Warriors. Okello added 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds while Enabu contributed 10 points off the bench.
David Deng scored team-high 15 points and picked 11 rebounds, Lual added 15 points, Isaiah Ater chipped in with 14 while Jerry Kayanga has 12 points.
Game 3 will be played on Sunday.