KAMPALA (FIBA Africa Champions Cup 2016/FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - Less than a week after emerging as the MVP of the Zone 5 Qualifiers in Tanzania for the FIBA Africa Champions Cup 2016, Ugandan shooting guard Jimmy Enabu is already looking ahead to the continental showpiece set for December in Cairo, Egypt.
"City Oilers has an understanding of players and how to get the best out of them is one of the things they have done well." - Enabu
It was a fairy tale story in which Enabu, as the captain fantastic he is, showcased from the outset his ability to influence the proceedings on the court. He did so while playing in a star-studded side with two-time Zone 5 MVP Landry Ndikumana from Burundi, Rwandan star Kami Kabangu, dependable point guard Ben Komakech and Ugandan center Stanley Ocitti.
His athletic ability, explosiveness and big heart are enviable even to his fellow teammates who are always awed at the determination when tested by bigger bodied opponents with loads of experience in the mold of Senegal and Tunisia at AfroBasket.
City Oilers head coach Mandy Juruni - who is also the head coach of the national team - admits that after AfroBasket 2015, Enabu took it upon himself to better prepare for continental tournaments after finishing 15th out of 16 in Rades last year.
Returning to Zone 5 for the third time in a row was very emotional for Enabu and City Oilers, who have dominated the topflight league in Uganda since earning promotion from Division 2 in 2013 and winning three consecutive titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
In 2014, in Mombasa, the Oilers settled for third place before coming so close in 2015 falling to Egyptian side Gezira 75-73, a game Enabu still has in mind.
"Sometimes I feel like we could have been back-to-back Zone 5 champions but God has His own timing. The team loves to compete. I felt it was only a matter of time until we won. We worked and prayed so hard for it," he said.
Enabu has always been the competitive type from his high school days at Kabojja Secondary School in Kampala winning the National Schools Championship in 2006 to joining his hometown side Entebbe Knight Riders the following year till 2009.
In an ambitious move, he joined the UCU Canons in 2010 before moving to Power for the following two seasons winning two back-to-back topflight league titles in 2011 to 2012.
His individual brilliance was noted by many in the Ugandan fraternity and so it came as no surprise when newcomers City Oilers showed interest in signing him in 2013.
"It is a blessing to have a good group of players, good management and coaching staff and good luck. The team had a few recruits and the only experienced players were Kami Kabangu and Arou Ramadhan," he recalled.
"City Oilers has an understanding of players and how to get the best out of them is one of the things they have done well and demanding excellence from players and helping them achieve was important."
This commitment from top management has motivated the players to now look further than Uganda and the region and onto the FIBA Africa Champions Cup.
"We shall prepare for the tournament like we have always prepared for the competitions that we have taken part in and the rest will take care of itself. I really thank our sponsors Ling Long for the support and the fans that had our back."
Looking ahead, Enabu is eager to compete on a regular basis at the leading African continental competitions both for his club City Oilers and with the Uganda national team.