Andrew Tendo new Oilers coach

Tendo ready to write new page in Oilers history

ANDREW Tendo says his recent appointment as the head coach of City Oilers elicited in him two feelings: “anxiety” and “excitement”. The dual emotions engulfing him are understandable as leading the storied Ugandan club will demand that he is also successful during his tenure.

His excitement emanates from his desire to lead a team, which has now become a reality. His anxiety, on the other hand, stems from taking over the position vacated by the accomplished coach Mandy Juruni, who joined Rwanda’s Kepler University last year.

Juruni won nine titles as head coach of the Oilers, and Tendo, as an assistant, was part of three of those championship wins. Having played a part in building the Oilers’ culture of success and now being the man in the hot seat, his state of mind is warranted.

“I have mixed feelings. Like any human being, you are happy to get this opportunity (to coach the Oilers). But you are anxious too because you want to do well,” said Tendo, who has led Uganda’s senior men’s team. “That is why I say mixed feelings… I am happy and anxious regarding the appointment.”

Andrew Tendo takes over coaching reins at City Oilers
All eyes will be on Andrew Tendo as he takes over from Mandy Juruni. Pictures: The BTO

Tendo expanded on his feeling of anxiety. He knows Juruni left an indelible mark at the Oilers and for him (Tendo), the only foot to get off on, is the right one.

“I was assistant to coach Mandy, who has now moved on to another club. He won nine championships in a row, and that will not be easy to emulate. But you also don’t want to be the coach who starts with a record that is on the negative side. You want to do just as well as your predecessor,” said Tendo.

“The excitement comes from the fact that I have always wanted to be in charge of a team. I have been a part of the club’s history from the start. I desired to be a coach of the City Oilers, but I have had to wait my turn. Finally, here I am. It’s a dream come true.”

Before turning to matters in the court, Tendo, also a lawyer by profession, explained that he is a detail-orientated coach. When asked how being a lawyer has helped with his coaching, he pointed to the aspect of details.

“There are some good things I took from my profession, like planning. I like to plan things as I do not like surprises. I like to picture a lot of scenarios and to figure out how to deal with them accordingly,” said Tendo.

With the commencement of the Uganda National Basketball League (NBL) around the corner (January 25) and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) tipping off in March, Tendo knows he has to get the ball rolling.

He says from a preparation perspective, not much has changed – the only difference is that a new coach will be giving instructions.

“The beauty of how things are run in our club is my involvement (as an assistant) in all the processes regarding the league and the BAL. I gave my input and suggestions for the head coach to consider. Now, I am one of the guys that makes the decisions and the buck stops with me,” said Tendo, who won five league titles as a player for the Falcons Basketball Club. “For the preparations of the local league and BAL, we will do what has worked for us. There will not be many changes. We will be okay during this transition.”

Concerning playing personnel, Tendo says they will introduce more youth ahead of the NBL competition. He will also continue with senior players like forward and team captain James Okello, point guard Fayed Baale and shooting guard Tonny Drileba who are part of the Oilers’ core.

“James Okello is one of the pillars of the team. He has been with us for ninety per cent of the Oilers’ existence. He is one of our senior players. We will need him to help us transition the new players,” said Tendo. “Tonny and Fayed are part of the younger generation. They have now grown to become contributing players. So their services will be vital to our local league and BAL campaign.

Andrew Tendo and Mandy Juruni
Andrew Tendo converses with Mandy Juruni during the Road To BAL Elite 16 Division East.

For the BAL competition, Tendo says they are most likely to retain the international players who did battle for the Oilers at the Road To BAL qualifiers in South Africa last year.

“For the BAL, we will retain the majority of the guys. The team management was at the BAL Combine (in Morocco 5 – 7 January), so we will discuss if they identified players that we can add to the team,” said Tendo.

Finally, Tendo hopes to continue the club’s track record of winning. He implored on the players to be up to that task.

“I appreciate the support I have gotten so far (from management and players). We should all work together because we are writing a new story… And this new story should be about making more history,” concluded Tendo.   

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