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KPA in flying start to basketball play-offs

Kenya Ports Authority basketball teams registered victories in their opening best-of-three series play-offs quarter final Game One matches at Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium on Saturday.

Women’s defending champions KPA sounded a strong warning to rivals with a massive 73-43 win over hosts Ulinzi Blades. The dockers will host Ulinzi Blades in Game Two and Three after their return from Tunisia where they will represent Fiba-Africa Zone Five and Kenya in the  Africa Club championship.

Their male counterparts likewise opened their campaign with a hard-fought two-overtime 89-83 victory over tough Blades.

Blades had an upper hand from start going up 32-26 at half-time. The match ended in a 61-61 draw at the end of regulation time and was tied again at 71-71 after the first over-time.

Blades, who had twice lost narrowly to KPA in the regular season, had Emmanuel Soja and Valentine Nyakinda calling the shots which left the coastal team on the receiving end most of the time.

Coach Anthony Ojukwu had to quickly inject positive ideas to his young outfit led by Martin Gitonga and Kooshen Diriye. KPA rallied from behind to lock the first over-time (10-10) prompting the second quarter to separate the two battling sides.

Blades lost focus in the second over-time of a highly charged match that was officiated by newly qualified Fiba international referee Eric Omondi and Thomas Mutuku.

Blades suffered a major setback after key players Hope Robert and Samuel Mogoko were ejected leaving the dock men to effectively utilize their scoring chances.

STRONG TEAM

KPA outscored Blades (28-22) in the second over-time to win the game (89-83). KPA’s leading scorers were Gitonga scored (15) and Diriye (12) while Blades’ Soja hit a game high 21 points.

“I congratulate my players for victory against a very strong team. My players were fatigue after finishing the regular season late without time to prepare for the play-offs. We hope to comfortably win the two matches at home in Mombasa,” Ojukwu said.

Blades coach Tony Ochieng said: “Suspect calls by the referees cost us the game that we were winning comfortably. But all is not lost.”

In the women’s play-offs Game One matches, Hellen Oketch scored 15 points while Linet Atieno added 13 to help champions KPA beat hosts Ulinzi Blades (73-43). KPA dictated terms from the word go leading (32-16) at the break.

Ulinzi Blades under coach Moses ‘Chopper” Shida played poorly trailing in all the four quarters.

Regular season winners USIU-A Flame started their play-offs campaign by beating Safe Spaces (47-34). Georgia Adhiambo scored 12 points while Cythia Irankunda added 10 for Flames, who led 19-11 at the breather in a low scoring tie.

In the Men’s Division Play-offs Game One matches, regular season leaders Zetech University started the campaign of qualifying for next year’s Premier League for the first time by beating Trailblazers 62-51.

In another tie, Umoja humiliated Upper Hill School 72-26 after leading 43-12 at the break. Game Two and Three will be played on November 30 and victory for both Zetech and Umoja will see them advance to the semi-finals on a 2-0 basis.
Rssults: Zetech University 62 Trailblazers 51, Umoja 72  Upper Hill School 26 KPA-men 89 Blades 83, KPA-women 73 Ulinzi Blades 43.