KU Pirates keen to avoid relegation

By francis marangu
Jul 21, 2021
  • Arial Okal of KAA against Kenyatta University Pirates who are keen to stay in the men's KBF Premier league after losing key players last season. The University only fields current students.

Kenyatta University Pirates, one of the teams promoted to the Kenya Basketball Federation men's premier league this year, has found itself fighting relegation in their debut season.

The varsity side had their eyes on the playoffs but a poor start has forced head coach Gitau Waringo to review his goals. Pirates has played twelve matches and won only one against bottom side Blazers.

“The playoffs are out of question for us looking at the performance. Our main objective in the remaining games is to play hard and be among the top fourteen teams and avoid relegation,” he told sportsnewsarena.com.

At the start of the season, Pirates lost five key players who were part of the starting five last season in their division one campaign. Gilbert Obiero (now with Umoja), Douglas Momanyi, Nicodemus Odhiambo, Robert Otieno and Jonathan Lando are not part of the team anymore and Waringo rues their exit.

“Its very difficult for us without the five,” he observed saying his team is equal to the task. “I cannot say competition in the league is big for us but its only that we don't have the key players. If they were there, we could now be playing in the top four and matching these top teams.”

He adds the institution’s policy of releasing players who graduate and picking players from within has put to rest any chances of seeking replacements. The university’s long holiday that begins in March till August has also complicated the team’s chances.

Since the start of the 2014 season in April, players have been operating from home and it is difficult to raise a quorum during training. On Sunday, they lost 55-75 to Thunder after putting up a strong fight.

Griffin Ligare scored 25 points for Thunder, grabbed seven rebounds and five steals with Cliff Alela adding 18 points, 16 rebounds and two steals. Jacktone Agunda was Pirates’ highest scorer with 17 points.Thunder beat Nairobi Aviation College 94-62 on Saturday.

Drama on Sunday

There was drama on Sunday after Equity Bank refused to play Kenya Ports Authority, KPA, at the Nyayo gymnasium which resulted in a 20-0 walkover for the dockers. The match was earlier slated for Friday night at Kasarani but rescheduled to Sunday.

However, Equity players insisted they were prepared to play against Blazers and not KPA occasioning the stalemate. KPA had earlier beaten Nakuru Club 121-65 on Saturday.

Nakuru was on the losing end again on Sunday going down 50-68 to champions Co-operative Bank. Nick Ondinyo had 13 points for the bankers while Nakuru’s top scorer was Robert Kibet with 11 points. Nakuru won the first quarter 15-13 and Co-op Bank the subsequent quarters 18-9, 20-11 and 17-15.

On Saturday, the bankers beat Blades from Strathmore University 68-57.

Lions continued with its resurgence after beating Strathmore University 60-58 at the death on Sunday. It was a comeback win for Lions who trailed 22-33 at the breather.

United States International University- Africa, USIU-A, extended its season record to 10-0 with a 67-35 win over Kenya College of Accountancy- University, KCA-U. Georgia Adhiambo top scored for USIU-A with 11 points while Celestine Isabwa scored 16 for KCA-U.

Ulinzi Blades registered their fourth win of the season beating Safe Spaces 50-40. Safe Spaces featured five players only without any substitutions for the entire game and exhaustion played a key role in their loss.

Rebecca Sarange top-scored for Ulinzi with 13 points and Florence Mbithe for Safe Spaces with 10. Ulinzi’s record stands at 4-5 and head coach Moses Shida remains hopeful of making it to the playoffs.

“The team is generally good only that our bench power is very weak. We don't have quality players to complement the regulars but we must play in the playoffs despite tough competition.”

in another match, Suzanne Akinyi scored 18 points to steer Sprite Storms to a 57-23 win over Western Delights. Jacqueline Chelashaw scored 11 points for Delights who lost all quarters 8-6, 12-4, 17-9 and 20-4. Eagle Wings scored 40-27 against Kenyatta University Oryx.

KBF Weekend Results: KPA 20 Equity Bank 0 (wo), Ulinzi Blades 50 Safe Spaces 40, KCA-U 35 USIU Flames 67, Co-op Bank 68 Nakuru Club 50, Sprite Storms 57 Western Delights 23, Eagle Wings 40 KU Oryx 27, KCA-U 58 Trailblazers 59, Parklands Baptist 42 Eldonetts 59, Lions 60 Strathmore University 58, Thunder 75 KU Pirates 55, Nairobi Aviation College 62 Thunder 94, Co-op Bank 68 Blades 57, KPA 121 Nakuru Club 65.