Equity eye knockout after good season, but will miss three key players
After a brilliant regular season where they finished third in the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) men’s league, Equity Bank jump off their playoff campaign tonight against sixth-seeded Embakasi Youth (EMYBA) in Game One of the playoff quarter-finals.
The bankers had a huge improvement in their seeding this season, having finished sixth and eighth in the last two seasons. They came in third, behind leaders Ulinzi Warriors and Nairobi City Thunder, beating Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to third place after winning their last regular league match against Strathmore Blades.
“We are up against a hard fighting side, and despite winning the home and away matches in the regular season, there is no complacency on our part as these are the playoffs and it is a different ball game all together. We are ready both mentally and physically. We have also worked on our defence which has been our weak link and are ready to fight it out with the best,” said coach Carey Odhiambo.
The bankers will be without three key players in shooting guard Faisal Aden who has been a key part of the side since joining them at the beginning of the season. Centre player Kevin Kigotho and his counterpart Dan Omondi are also unavailable.
Aden and Kigotho are nursing injuries that will see them miss the rest of the season with the latter likely to miss part of the next season as he underwent a surgery after suffering an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury. Omondi landed a scholarship in Guyana
“The absence of the three players will be felt but the remaining players are ready to play their hearts out. After being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in the last two seasons, we are looking to make a semis berth. We have depth to achieve that, as has been evident in the matches we have played without the said players,” added Odhiambo.
Meanwhile, another debutant, Eldonets are looking to finish the job on Saturday when they take on Thunder in Game Two of the quarters. The Eldoret-based club has a 1-0 advantage having stunned Thunder in Game One to win 63-53 at their own backyard.
“We will be keen to avoid a decider match so we will go for a win. We lost by seven points in the away match in regular season due to some costly mistakes on the paint and poor defence in the second half. We have worked on that and are confident of a win,” said Eldonets’ coach Maurice Juma.
On their part, Warriors will also be looking to book a semis slot with a Game Two win against Kisumu Lakeside on Saturday.