Ulinzi draw strength from losses to clinch title

By francis marangu
Dec 19, 2015
  • Victor Odendo, the Ulinzi Warriors captain was voted as the Most Valuable Player. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • William Balozi, the Ulinzi Warriors coach said the soldiers drew strength from their losses to win the men's Premier League by beating USIU-A. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Victor Odendo, the Ulinzi Warriors captain was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) as the soldiers beat USIU-A 75-60 in game three to clinch the 2015 Kenya Basketball Federation men's Premier League title on Friday night at the Safaricom Indoor Arena, Kasarani.

He took home Sh25,000 cash award.

Ulinzi made it 3-0 series win over United States International University- Africa (USIU-A) after winning game three 75-60. The soldiers started on a slow tempo but finished off strongly.

Head coach William Balozi was happy to have reclaimed the title they lost in 2009 despite many setbacks. “We lost four games in regular season; two in our conference and two inter-conference. That did not demoralize us but we drew strength from the losses,” he noted.

On whether USIU-A was an easy opposition making it possible for the clean sweep, Balozi said; “They were opponents we knew very well because we beat them home and away in our conference in regular season. I am happy that the cup is back to where it belongs; defence headquaters.”

For the win, Ulinzi pocketed Sh300,000 and USIU-A Sh.200,000.

The soldiers won first quarter 19-12 but it was USIU-A who had a 4-0 lead to set the quarter rolling and led at 6-5 and 8-7. Ulinzi led at 5-4, 7-6, 12-10 and 15-12 with ties of 10-10 and 12-12.

In the second quarter, Ulinzi stretched the lead to 10 points leading 22-12 but USIU-A went on a 10-0 scoring run to tie scores at 22-22. The lead then changed hands for leads of 24-22, 26-25, 28-27 and 31-30 to Ulinzi as USIU-A led 25-24 and 27-26.

They tied at 30-30 with USIU-A winning the quarter for a 33-30 halftime lead to Ulinzi.

Turning point for Ulinzi

The third quarter was the biggest turning point for Ulinzi as they won 23-12 to widen the gap. They had the biggest lead in the quarter of 14 points leading 56-42.

The competitive nature of USIU-A wore out in fourth quarter and their body language on the court was that of imminent losers. They left Ulinzi to capitalize on rebounds and second shots losing out 18-19. Ulinzi had the game’s biggest lead of 19 points leading 66-47.

William Ochieng top-scored for Ulinzi with 18 points, Eric Mutoro scored 17 and Odendo had 15. Joel Ntambwe was the highest scorer for USIU-A with 18 points while Kevin Kigotho and Alex Ramazani scored 11 each.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Nairobi City Thunder will face off in the third place playoff on Saturday.

In the Division One final, Upper Hill won game three 56-52 to take a 2-1 series lead over Kenya College of Accountancy- University (KCA-U.

Upper Hill piled pressure on KCA-U from the onset taking a big lead of 13 points at 17-4 to win first quarter 17-7. The high school students had the biggest lead of 12 points in the second quarter at 25-13 but KCA-U won the quarter 16-15.

Upper Hill enjoyed a 32-23 lead at the breather. They failed to convert their chances in third quarter allowing KCA-U to come back to within three points. With 3:09 to play, KCA-U had gone on a 10-1 scoring run to tie scores at 33-33.

KCA-U's first lead

Upper Hill then took the lead 35-33 but Bobby Onyango gave KCA-U their first lead in the game with a three-pointer to make it 36-35 with 2:06 on the clock. There was a tie of 38-38 before KCA-U led 40-38 and Upper Hill 41-40.

KCA-U won the quarter 17-11 for 43-40 to Upper Hill.

KCA-U took a 45-44 lead at the start of fourth quarter but Upper Hill led 46-45. KCA-U went up 50-48 befor Upper Hill led 51-50 and held on to the final whistle winning the quarter 13-12.

In second half, Upper Hill scored 14 of their 24 points from the free-throw line. David Ouma scored 14 points for Upper Hill, Riak Machuol had 11 with Riny Riny and Isaiah Ater scoring 10 each. Bobby Onyango top-scored for KCA-U with 10 points.