Kenya national women’s basketball team carries the only hope of the nation when they gear up for a stern test against rivals Uganda in a crunch Afro Basketball Zone Five qualifier match on Thursday evening in Cairo, Egypt.
The women’s category was changed into a double robin competition after Somalia pulled out leaving only Egypt, Uganda and Kenya to battle it for the sole ticket that will guarantee a place in the Afro Basket Africa Championship slated for later this year.
The two teams meet for the second time in less than week and a win for Kenya will keep their chances alive.
Kenya has an impressive head to head record against Uganda. Since 2009, the nations have faced each other eight times.
Kenya has won six times to Uganda’s two with the latest encounter on Monday proving to be one sided as Kenya prevailed 70-41.
David Maina, the Kenya coach said that it is a must win for them so that they can have some hope heading into their last match against Egypt on Friday.
“This is a crucial tie for us as it will determine if we still have a chance to qualify. We would like to be more accurate in shooting and put in a better performance,” Maina said.
Egypt currently leads the standings on four points with Kenya second on three points and Uganda on two points.
The key players in Maina’s side include point guard Natalie Akinyi who has averaged 11 points per game. Others are Mercy Wanyama (seven points per game), Samba Mjomba, Yvonne Akinyi and captain Hilda Indasi who are all expected to start the game.
On the Ugandan side, deadly guard Flavia Oketch and Muhayimina Namuwaya are the star players. Judith Nasobya, who has averaged eight points per game, is also expected to cause problems especially on the offensive.
Egypt piled misery on Kenya men’s team In the men’s category. The hosts had a strong second half to deny Kenya a win after three matches.
The Egyptians scored 46 points against Kenya’s 17 in the second half en route to a comfortable 86-47 win.
In this match, the teams were locked at 16 points at the end of the first quarter. Egypt surged to 40-30 ahead, a lead that they never relinquished until the end of the match.
Egypt outscored Kenya 24-8 in the third quarter for a 64-38 lead in the match. They never relented in the fourth quarter by again proving too hot to handle as they scored 22 to Kenya's low tally of nine points and close out as 86-47 winners.
The team comparison spoke volumes of the difference in class between the two teams.
Egypt had 26 assists to Kenya’s 15 and 42 rebounds to Kenya’s 31. Kenya also conceded more turnovers of 21 to Egypt’s 19. Egypt capitalized on those turnovers and scored 22 points on the fast breaks.
The Egyptian reserve players contributed a massive 49 points off the bench to Kenya’s nine points.
Evans Letting was Kenya’s best performer with 23 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Letting scored on 10 of his 19 field goal attempts.
Francis Ogola had six points and five rebounds while Victor Bosire scored five points while adding seven assists in the encounter.
The Egyptians had four players who scored double digits. Hayman Khalifa had 12 points including four three pointers. Khalifa also contributed six rebounds and an assist.
Mustafa had 12 points, two rebounds and two assists. Karim El Dahshan (11points) and Ahmed Mohammed (10 points) were other top contributors.
Kenya finished bottom of Group A on three points and will take on Group B bottom side Somalia in the positional classification match on Thursday.
In their previous three encounters since 2013, Kenya is 2-1 up on head to head. During 2013 edition, Kenya lost 78-81 to Somalia in the preliminary round before toppling Somalia 72-63 in the knockout stage.
Kenya also prevailed in 2014 when they won 97-79.
Somalia’s Mohammed Abdulahi will be the danger man after averaging an impressive 17 points.
Men: South Sudan 80 Uganda 99, Rwanda 90 Burundi 54, Kenya 47 Egypt 86.
Men: Kenya v Somalia (3.45 p.m.) Semi final: Uganda v Rwanda (8 p.m.), Egypt v Burundi (10.15 p.m.); Women: Kenya v Uganda (6 p.m.).