KPA soar as Ulinzi fall at final Zone V hurdle in Dar
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) lifted the regional women’s title for the ninth time while Ulinzi Warriors failed in their bid to capture the men’s crown as the 2016 FIBA Africa Zone V Club Basketball Championship concluded on Friday night in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
Both qualified for the Africa Clubs Basketball Championships better known as Final Tour in December where they will be joined by a third Kenyan side, United States International University (USIU) who finished second in the women’s competition.
KPA emerged with honours in the keenly contested pool after pulverising KCCA of Uganda 72-27 in their final match.
The Ugandans managed to hold on their coattails in the first quarter that ended 17-11 in favour of the Dockers but that is as close as the lopsided contest got as KPA breezed through the remaining stanzas 19-6, 19-7 and 17-3 to round off the crushing victory.
KPA’s Selina Okumu emerged the tournament Most Valuable Player after another commanding display.
“I never knew someone was watching so closely. I just played my game throughout and I feel humbled by this trophy,” the surprise debutant at the regional stage gushed after being presented with the coveted award.
It was the fifth victory out of six games for the Dockers at the Indoor Stadium after they recovered from a shock 60-64 loss to UCU of Uganda to clip Ubumwe (Rwanda) 62-51, crush Don Bosco (Tanzania) 114-63, out-fox USIU 72-51, thump JKT Stars (Tanzania) 73-41 and round off with the KCCA rout.
This is the ninth title that KPA, who were hungry for victory after missing out in the tournament last year, were lifting at the championship.
“We came with a game plan that successfully worked and we hope to replicate the same in Maputo. Our aim is to start preparations early for the Final Tour,” the delighted Dockers head coach, Anthony Ojukwu, declared.
His assistant Phillip Onyango warned their domestic rivals victory in Tanzania had given them the impetus to challenge for the Kenya Basketball Federation title.
“Our mission to conquer Zone V is over. Focus now turns to reclaiming the league title we lost last season,” Onyango added.
Compatriots USIU also broke into celebration after grabbing a slot in the continental championship by finishing second in the group.
They achieved it the hard way, edging their cliff-hanger with Uganda Christian University 57-53 in their last game to take second place by a better score difference after three teams finished level on 10 points.
“We are going to prepare for Maputo early. We have to be fit, focused and perfect in our techniques,” the relieved USIU assistant coach, Abel Nson offered.
Having come from an energy sapping semi final victory, Ulinzi simply had no gas to match the well-oiled Oilers machine from Uganda who overran the soldiers 72-49 in the men’s final to extend their wait for a first regional crown since 2004.
“We appreciate the runners-up position. We tried our best but our opponents were the better side, we will live to fight another day,” the downcast Ulinzi head coach William Balozi said.
He shifted attention to the defence of their local title and making amends at the Final Tour whose new venue will be announced soon by FIBA after Egypt withdrew from hosting.
Fellow Kenyans, USIU lost the third-place play-off 60-67 to Patriots of Rwanda who ran Ulinzi close in the semis.
Final women standings
- KPA 11
- Usiu 10 (+7)
- Ubumwe (Rwanda) 10 (-4)
- UCU (Uganda) 10(-3)
- KCCA (Uganda) 9
- JKT Stars 7
- Don Bosco 6
Ulinzi 49 City Oilers (Uganda) 72
Men’s third place playoff
Usiu 60 Patriots (Rwanda) 67