KPA return favor to Ulinzi one year later

By francis marangu
Dec 13, 2021
  • Kenya Ports Authority and Co-Operative Bank will meet in the KBF men's Premier League final in January. KPA beat Ulinzi Warriors and Co-Op Bank beat Thunder. (SNA. File Photo)

On Jamhuri Day when Kenya Defense Forces had a significant role to play, head coach Anthony Ojukwu steered Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to a crucial win over Ulinzi Warriors in the Kenya Basketball Federation men's Premier League playoffs.

The win saw KPA eject the defending champions from the competition. The celebration at the end of game four on Monday night was a culmination of swift revenge over the soldiers.

KPA returned the favour after Ulinzi eliminated them last season as the then champions on their way to winning the title. They will play Co-operative Bank in the final to be played early January.

Co-op Bank and KPA won games four at the Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium and the final will be a repeat of the 2013 match-up that Co-op Bank won 3-0.

Against Nairobi City Thunder, the bankers came alive in the second half to win 68-53. The first half was a tight affair and no team could open a huge lead.

The first quarter tied 13-13. Thunder started off by taking a 6-0 lead before Co-op Bank went for a 7-0 scoring run to lead 7-6. Thunder then led 8-7, Co-op Bank 9-8, Thunder 10-9, Co-op Bank 11-10 and Thunder 13-11.

The bankers claimed the second quarter 19-15 to lead 32-28 at halftime. In the quarter, Co-op Bank led 17-15, 22-21 and 27-25 while Thunder led 15-13, 19-17 and 23-22. There were ties of 15-15, 17-17 and 25-25.

Co-op Bank stretched the lead

In the third quarter, Co-op Bank went up for 10 points leading 46-36 and won 16-12. They stretched the lead to 15 points in the fourth quarter at 63-48 and won 20-13. James Mwangi led scoring for Co-op Bank with 16 points while Khaemba Situma, Job Byron and Titus Musembi scored 10 points each.

Brian Busu had nine. Shem Otieno top scored for Thunder with 19 points, Griffin Ligare scored 11 and Aleu Dhol had 10.

In the second game, Ulinzi came down from 17 points in the second half to take the lead in the fourth quarter but eventually lost 72-76 to KPA. Martin Kitonga played a big game for KPA making sure the second chance balls counted.

He scored six vital points in the closing moments when Ulinzi was threatening to run away with the game. KPA won the first quarter 21-10 with Ulinzi taking a 2-0 lead before KPA tied.

The soldiers then went 5-2 up but the dockers replied with intent, going for a 14-0 scoring run to lead 16-5. KPA won the second quarter 17-15 and had a lead of 17 points at 29-12.

Ulinzi seemed to have lost the fight, conceding from turnovers as KPA worked out their passes perfectly. KPA still maintained their momentum in the third quarter that tied 16-16.

Ancette Wafula who missed game three on Sunday nailed crucial three-pointers that had Ulinzi back into contention. William Ochieng did great work below the rim and with five minutes to play, they were trailing by three points at 57-60.

Wafula gave Ulinzi the lead

Ulinzi then went one point down with 3:57 to play before Richard Osano sunk a three-pointer with 3:34 to tie 66-66. Evans Letting broke the tie with a free shot for KPA but Wafula gave Ulinzi the lead with two free shots for 68-67.

Kitonga scored a basket to give KPA a 69-68 lead and was the main man in the closing 1:30, ensuring there was no game five.

In Division II, Zetech University went all out to beat Riara University 77-54 in a lively game five and reach finals. Ian Mwindu scored a game high 25 points for Zetech. Pharez Adalla top scored for Riara with 17 points while Ken Wachira fired four three-pointers to finish with 16 points.