Thunder strike USIU-A Tigers at Nyayo

By alex wafula
Dec 05, 2021
  • Griffin Ligare scored 22 points as Thunder beat USIU-A in the first game of the KBF men's Premier League playoff at the Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium on Friday. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Griffin Ligare was in red hot form as Nairobi City Thunder beat USIU-A Tigers 66-55 in game one of the semi-finals of the Kenya Basketball Federation play offs at the Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium on Friday night.

Thunder commanded the game from start to finish and as they head for game two on Saturday at the Nyayo National Stadium indoor gym expects to witness fireworks.

Ligare, speaking to Sports News Arena after his sterling performance said the side is aiming at finishing the game off at game three as they aim for their first ever KBF play off final berth.

“It is going to be a lot of pressure if we let the series go until game five. We are determined to finish it at game three but first we have to take it a step at a time. Today we played very well despite a few mistakes, but it was very important we start with a win,” Ligare stated.

The point guard sunk 22 points for his side, in a game that started on a slow pace as the two sides struggled to cope with the dim lighting at the gymnasium. For two and a half minutes, none of the two sides scored a basket.

But when they switched gears, it was Thunder who moved the fastest. Thunder pressed and hunted in packs of three whenever they lost the ball and their fitness levels were evident from their agility in the quarter covering every length of the court.

They won the first quarter 18-12. Thunder continued with the same tempo in the second quarter, this time doing much of the damage on the first break especially with USIU-A losing simple baskets and failing to win the rebounds.

Thunder took the second quarter 17-14 for a half time score of 35-26.

Fought like hungry tigers

At the beginning of the third quarter, the students from Thika Road fought back like hungry tigers. They   tidied their passing and fast breaks, pressing Thunder to uncomfortable levels.

Alvin Nyangweso in particular was a pillar in USIU-A's second half resurgence and they managed to squeeze a 15-all score at the end of the quarter and an overall 50-41 score going into the last quarter.

USIU-A Tigers sensed the game was within their grasp and as a result exerted more pressure to narrow the gap  to within two baskets of Thunder at 53-49.

The fight back by USIU-A Tigers prompted the latter’s coach to call a time out with 6:50 minutes played on the clock.

The little breather paid dividends and Ligare once again eased away from USIU-A sinking six points in quick succession to restore a comfortable lead.

Tigers appeared to have lost hope of catching up again and Ligare had the final nail on their coffin, winding the clock down on the left and with no one interested in shutting him down, he looked up at the rim, thought of a three-pointer and said why not, the net trickling down in ecstasy.

“The job is not yet done, we have to give respect to USIU-A because they are a good side and very competitive. We need to improve on our five-on-five play and ensure we play with more intensity,” Ligare added.

Goro unimpressed despite win

In the earlier match, Kenya College of Accountancy University (KCA-U) won their first Division One semifinal, beating Trailblazers 68-50 to lead the series 1-0. KCA-U coach Charles Goro was  unimpressed despite the win.

KCA-U lost the first quarter 14-17 but bounced back in the second which they won 18-7.

In the second half, the students slowed the pace and Trailblazers cut off the lead winning the third quarter 20-17. But, KCA-U replied by taking the fourth quarter 19-06.

“I think we did not start well because maybe the pressure of the play offs is getting into the players. But we have seen our mistakes, gotten some confidence and hopefully we play better in game two. Our defense leaked a lot today especially with penetration from the centre and it is something we are looking to correct,” Goro told Sports News Arena.


Saturday: KPA vs Ulinzi (4 p.m., Mombasa), Co-op Bank vs KPA (6 p.m., Nyayo gymnasium), Thunder vs USIU-A (8 p.m.); Sunday: Eldonets vs 4-Christ (10 a.m., UG), ANU vs JKUAT (9 a.m., Nyayo gymnasium), Barclays Bank vs Upper Hill (10:30), KCA-U vs Trailblazers (12 p.m.), KPA vs Co-op Bank (2 p.m.), USIU-A vs Thunder (4 p.m.).