Ulinzi Warriors gun down champs KPA to lead playoffs

By francis marangu
Dec 07, 2021
  • KPA's Hellen Oketch shields the ball against Co-op Bank's Belinda Okoth in the women's playoff in which KPA leads 2-0. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Ulinzi Warriors has defied home court advantage to take a 2-0 series lead against hosts Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) in Mombasa.

The men's Premier League semifinal playoffs game will now head to Nairobi for games three, four and five in case the series goes to full length.

Ulinzi will need a win in game three to proceed to the final for the second year running while KPA must win all the three games to progress.

On Saturday, the soldiers won game one 85-77 and came out 87-81 winners in game two on Sunday.

At the Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium, Nairobi City Thunder took control of the second semifinal 2-1 after winning game three 72-69 against United States International University- Africa (USIU-A). 

After a balanced contest, Griffin Ligare won it for Thunder from the free-throw line in the last seconds of the game.

After the lead had changed hands severally in short intervals inside fourth quarter, Shem Otieno made a steal off Derick Juma with a minute to play and scored to give Thunder a 68-66 lead.

Alex Ramazani then fired a three-pointer with 34 seconds remaining for USIU-A to lead 69-68 but fouling cost them heavily. With 33 seconds to go, Juma fouled Ligare who made two free shots for a 70-69 lead.

Ramazani then fouled Ligare with 17 seconds remaining and the resultant two free shots sealed the win.

The game tipped off with USIU-A taking a 2-0 lead and led again at 4-3, 13-11 and 15-11 before taking home first quarter 19-13. Thunder led only once at 3-2 with ties of 11-11 and 13-13.

Thunder led 38-35 at halftime

The students continued their dominance into second quarter and opened up an 11-point lead at 28-17. Thunder fought back to take the lead at 33-32 before the game tied 35-35. Thunder surged ahead 36-35 to win the quarter 25-16 and lead 38-35 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Thunder maintained a 10-point advantage over USIU-A leading 45-35, 47-37 and 50-40. USIU-A then went on a 10-0 scoring run to tie 50-50 with only 20 seconds remaining. Thunder led 51-50 but tied 51-51 to close the quarter that USIU-A won 16-13.

The students had a setback after key player Joel Ntambwe was disqualified with two technical fouls and will now miss games four and five. Thunder won the fourth quarter 21-18 after leading for four times at 55-54, 58-57, 64-63 and 68-66.

USIU-A led for four times as well at 54-51, 57-56, 63-62 and 65-64. They tied once at 66-66. Ligare scored 18 points for Thunder while Alvin Nyangweso top scored for USIU-A with 14 points, Ntambwe had 13 and Kevin Kigotho scored 12.

Thunder scored 18 points from the three-point line and 23 from free shots with USIU-A scoring 24 from three-pointers and 19 from free shots.

In the women's Premier League, KPA leads Co-operative Bank 2-0 after winning game two 63-43. Point guard Grace Wanjiku scored six points to lead the bankers to a positive start with a 8-0 lead after five minutes of play in first quarter.

She finished the quarter with eight points as Co-op Bank won 12-11.

The second quarter was closely contested with KPA winning 15-12 for a 26-24 halftime lead. KPA had their first lead at 13-12 and stretched to 17-12 before Co-op Bank came back to tie 17-17.

Mercy Achieng who scored eight points in the quarter played a crucial role in helping the bankers put a good fight. They took a 19-17 lead and made it a 5-point game at 22-17 but KPA rallied back to tie 22-22.

The bankers then led 24-22 but KPA led at 25-24 again. Co-op Bank lost it all in second half as they allowed KPA to break away. Angela Namirimu and Wanjiku scored four points each as the bankers lost third quarter 8-18 to trail by 12 points at 32-44.

KPA's biggest lead

KPA won the fourth quarter 19-11 and had the biggest lead of 27 points at 63-36. Wanjiku top scored for Co-op Bank with 17 points while Natalie Akinyi scored 13 for KPA, Evelyn Itabu had 12 and Hellen Oketch scored 11.

Both teams made three three-pointers with KPA scoring 16 points from free shots against eight for Co-op Bank.

Kenya College of Accountancy- University (KCA-U) beat Trailblazers 55-46 to lead 2-0 in division one semifinal playoffs. George Obumbo and Brian Ondari scored 15 points each and Lawrence Wandera added 12 to steer KCA-U to the win.

Nelson Kisia top scored for Trailblazers with 13 points and Katimwa Christopher added 12.

In the second semifinal, Upper Hill leads Barclays Bank 1-0 after winning 69-64. David Ouma scored highest for Upper Hill with 16 points while Riny Riny and Isaiah Ater scored 15 each. Franklin Delano hit four three-pointers to top score for Barclays with 23 points.