Nairobi Morans and Mombasa Sharks clash in semis

By francis marangu
Jun 14, 2017
  • Mombasa City Sharks and Nairobi Morans set up an all Kenyan semi-final. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Nairobi Morans and Mombasa City Sharks set up an all-Kenyan semifinal matchup at the ongoing Africa City Challenge to be played on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Mombasa finished second in their group behind Mogadishu City while Nairobi came top ahead of Kampala Red Stars in the other group.

On Tuesday, Nairobi beat Kampala 59-55 in a very close game that had a possibility of overtime play.

After playing for 36:01, Griffin Ligare was the main driving force for Nairobi. He scored 23 points, grabbed six rebounds, made four steals and three assists.

He fired home two three-pointers that made a huge difference in the last quarter and scored 11/13 at the free-throw line.

However, Ligare nearly cost Nairobi the win with two successive turnovers in the closing two minutes of the game. At the time, the game was tied 53-53 after Kampala had come back from seven points down (46-53).

Brian Namake scored the three-pointer that tied scores with 3:25 on the clock. Ligare’s first turnover was not costly to his team but from the second mistake, Mark Opio scored a basket to give Kampala the lead 55-53 with 1:40 on the clock.

Ligare made up for the error with two free shots few seconds later to tie 55-55. The game remained even until 27 seconds to play when Bush Wamukota made a good turn to score a jump shot and give Nairobi a 57-55 lead.

Namake then deliberately fouled Ligare with 16 seconds on the clock and he (Namake) fouled out. Ligare made the two free shots that sealed the win.

Nairobi won the first quarter 19-9 but it was Kampala who took a 2-0 lead through Michael Makiadi. Arou Chan leveled for Nairobi and Kevin Kigotho made a free shot for 3-2. Nairobi went on a roll to lead for 11 points at 19-8.

Ligare and Wamukota made two baskets in the quarter that thrilled fans. Ligare’s was from a beautiful steal from Kampala's big-man while Wamukota turned two opponents inside out before making it count in the best way.

In the second quarter, Kampala leveled 19-19 and took the lead with a three-pointer by Namake. They went on to lead by nine points at 28-19 and their teamwork played out very well.

Kenya was undone by clear instances of selfish play that played well into Kampala’s game plan. Kampala won 23-5 to lead 32-24 at halftime.

Visibly, Kampala had a strong bench that contributed 16 points for the half against Nairobi’s two points.

Nairobi narrowed the gap slowly in the third quarter and eventually tied 36-36 with a basket from Ligare 2:35 on the clock. Geoffrey Soro gave Kampala a 38-36 lead but Nairobi won the quarter 14-8.

Job Byron gave Nairobi a 43-42 lead inside the fourth quarter before the gap widened to seven points and they won 21-15. Opio came off the bench to top score for Kampala with 16 points and grabbed four rebounds.

Kampala v Mogadishu

On Wednesday night, Kampala will play Mogadishu in the second semifinal at 8 p.m. Mogadishu won their second game 87-68 against Juba Bright Stars.

The Somalis claimed first quarter 26-19 and turned out to be a three-point competition at some point. Mustafa Ali fired the first three-pointer to give Mogadishu a 5-0 lead but the game tied 6-6.

To break the tie, Hamadi Abdi sunk a second three-pointer for 9-6 and Juba replied with a three by Oromo Mackmot to tie 9-9. Mohad Haji made it 12-9 for Mogadishu before Juba levelled 12-12 through Athiey Deng.

Mogadishu then took a 14-12 lead and led for 10 points at 26-16. Mogadishu won the second quarter 19-15 to open an 11-point lead at halftime of 45-34.

In the third quarter, Mogadishu won 22-19 after leading for 19 points at 65-46 before taking home the fourth 20-15 with the biggest lead of 23 points at 87-64. Mohad Haji led scoring for Mogadishu with 19 points and Mustafa Ali added 18.

Leek Manual, David Gabriel and Athiey Deng scored 13 points each for Juba.

“I have a youthful and talented team. Our objective here is to win and I know Kampala are good especially in rebounding. I have a lot of homework to do,” Sadik Haji, the Mogadishu head coach said ahead of the semifinal fixture.

Juba and Dar es Salaam will play in the fifth and sixth place ranking.