City Oilers suffered an 89-71 defeat to Petro de Luanda of Angola in their opening game of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) on Thursday.
However, the match-up at the Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall in Cairo, Egypt showed that the Ugandan champions are capable of securing a top-four finish in the Nile Conference.
Mande Juruni’s charges fell behind by double digits early in the first quarter after missing their first six shots. However, when Falando Jones connected from behind the arc nearly midway through the quarter, Oilers got on their feet.
Oilers trailed by 7 points (21-14) after the opening ten minutes but moved toe-to-toe with Petro for the next couple of quarters as James Justice Jr (20 points) rose to the occasion, especially in the second period.
A 5-0 run to start the third quarter gave Oilers their second lead of the game but Petro quickly responded through Aboubacar Gakou (16 points) who was a handful for the Ugandans and Jone Pedro.
With the game tied at 49 with just under six minutes to play in the third quarter, diminutive point guard Childe Dundao (11 points) was sent to the line hitting the first of the throws and missing the second on which James Majok pulled down the rebound and was fouled by Titus Odeke on his way up sending the big man to the line. Majok hit both throws and Petro never looked back.
Juruni will be concerned by his side rebounding as they were cleaned on the glass. Oilers were out-rebounded 54-36, 14 of which were offensive for Petro who scored 16 points off second-chance opportunities.
Jones finished with game-high 22 points to lead Oilers and Odeke contributed 10 points. Carlos Morais (11 points) also scored in double figures for Petro.
Oilers return to action on Saturday to face hosts Al Ahly before taking on SLAC, Ferroviario de Beira and Cape Town Tigers in that order.