Half a basket gifts Thunder over hosts KPA

By francis marangu
Apr 25, 2015
  • Mennonites Moses Koome and Agin Omondi go for the ball against Lions in their premier league game.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

Men’s premier league defending champions Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) suffered their first defeat of the season in a close 79-80 loss to Thunder on saturday at the Makande gymnasium, Mombasa.

It is the second huge win for Thunder after beating Co-operative Bank 60-55 last month. KPA could be feeling the heat of losing two key players Ariel Okal and Joseph Ouma who have joined the Ugandan league. Also, the new rule for fielding foreign players means one of their three sits out every game.

At the Nyayo stadium gymnasium, Felix Odhiambo scored the only five points for Mennonite in the fourth quarter as they beat Lions 57-56 in yet another tight contest.

Odhiambo was the star player for Mennonite top scoring with 17 points, 8 coming in the second quarter they won 12-10. Irungu Maina added 13 points for Mennonite while Simon Mayien and Victor Ochieng scored 12 points each for the losers.

Lions won first quarter 17-16 as Mennonite led 28-27 at halftime. This was the fourth straight league loss for Lions this season.

The performance is akin to last season when they went for the first five games winless but picked up to make it to the playoffs. At the close of third quarter, Mennonite had surged ahead to lead by eleven points at 52-41.

The fourth quarter was a do-or-die for a desperate Lions who fought hard to scale down the points difference. Despite Mayien missing three consecutive 3-point shot attempts and four free-throws, Lions clawed back to a one point game with 2:10 remaining. They trailed 54-55 but poor shooting in the closing moments of the game cost them a win.

Lack of commitment

It was a painful loss as Lions squandered the opportunity to push the game to extra time. With a second of play remaining and Mennonite leading 57-55, Suleiman Hassan fouled Collins Odhiambo gifting Lions two free shots. Odhiambo stepped up to the free-throw line but made only one. Lions head coach Juma Ikapian blamed laxity on the part of players for the poor showing.

“As a self-sponsored team, it is affecting us a lot. Many players don't make it to training daily so there is a lot of inconsistency in our preparations.”

Lack of commitment from players was evident in the fact that out of 12 players, Lions fielded only nine. Mennonite also missed two players making it a game of nine against ten.

“It is not that these players were unavailable, they were there but could not be selected since they never trained. There must be discipline in the team since players who trained cannot warm the bench while those who didn't train play,” Ikapian explained.

From the 3-point line, Mennonite scored 15 points against Lions’ 12 and 8 from free shots against Lions’ 10. Strathmore University was too strong for Nairobi Aviation College winning 60-46.

It was the third straight loss for Aviation this season. In 12 attempts, Strathmore made four 3-point shots and 17 free shots from 31 attempts. Aviation scored 14 points from the free-throw line and 6 from the 3-point arc. Martin Mugambi led the scores for Strathmore with 12 points, grabbed 2 rebounds and 2 assists while Beryl Omondi scored 10 points, grabbed 3 rebounds and one assist. Aviation’s top scorer was Ben Oluoch with game high 22 points.

Strathmore led 34-19 at halftime after winning opening quarters 15-9 and 19-10 respectively. Aviation cut the deficit by three points in third quarter with a 17-14 score but Strathmore assured the win in fourth quarter winning 12-10.

The only women premier league game of the day was played in Mombasa, KPA beating Kenya College of Accountancy- University (KCA-U) 122-11. This is the first century score of the season and KPA led 66-3 at halftime. In division one, Nebulas-Kakamega lost 54-63 to 4 Christ in its first game of the weekend.

Daniel Imbali scored the first 12 points of the game for 4 Christ as he top scored with 31 points, scoring three 3-point shots and six free shots. Don Obiga scored three 3-point shots to top score with 16 points as Don Bosco narrowly lost 49-50 to visiting Eldonets. World Hope beat Little Prince 76-60 after leading 36-34 at halftime.

Saturday Results: Little Prince 60 World Hope 75, Don Bosco 49 Eldonets 50, 4-Christ 63 Nebulas-Kakamega 54, Lions 56 Mennonites 57, Strathmore University 60 Nairobi Aviation College 46, KPA Men 79 Thunder 80, KPA Ladies 122 KCA-U 11.