Uganda’s City Oilers and Kenya Ports Authority’s (KPA) celebrations for winning the men’s and women’s honours respectively of the Fiba Africa Zone V basketball championship on October 7 remain fresh.
The two clubs will represent the zone at the Africa Champions Cup in Tunisia in December. Oilers claimed a second successive Zone V trophy, which was unprecedented in Uganda.
Equally, KPA succeeded in retaining the title they had won in Dar es Salaam a year ago. However, the 2017 Africa Zone V club championship made its own talking points as one of the best organized tournament in recent times.
“Every country has its variables,” noted the Zone V President Hesham El Hariri from Egypt, adding: “But the atmosphere in the arena and the interest of the Ugandan fans is commendable.”
The last Zone V club tournament here was in 2009. It was played at the YMCA in Wandegeya and at the main ground court at Makerere University.
The attractions for the fans were less then. For example, the hosts this time, Oilers, in conjunction with the Federation of Uganda Basketball Association (Fuba), erected a giant screen outside the MTN indoor stadium arena at Lugogo, to cater for the big number of spectators, who could not fit inside.
In addition, Oilers also provided an electronic score board, that provides details on individual player performances.
This is a huge facility, to aid in promoting the growth of basketball to international standards.
While the scoreboard cost Shs 57 million, it continued to show the lead Oilers is taking in shepherding Ugandan basketball to greater heights.
Fuba boss Ambrose Tashobya said the game needs more of such teams to inspire growth. Furthermore, Oilers helped in bringing sponsors such as Stanbic bank, LingLong Tires and Enoc Oil to back the tournament.
Fuba vice-president, Robert Musisi, says the budget for the tournament was over Shs 200 million, which covered inland transport and hotel expenses for 15 teams.
Each team had at least 15 people. Former Fuba vice- president Bob Buga said the tournament was a huge success but felt some teams were too strong compared to others.
He suggested that Fiba should reconsider the provision that allows teams to hire other players specifically for the tournament.
Oilers brought in four players from the USA, who do not play in the domestic league here. While KCCA hired Muhayimina Namuwaya from JKL Dolphins, which Buga says denies chance to players who have helped the team to qualify for the Zone V to play.