How ace Koranga turned adversity into triumph in US

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Felmas Adhiambo Koranga (centre).

National Women’s basketball team, Kenya Lionesses, star forward Felmas Koranga is set to become the first Kenyan to play in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division One League after signing for Troy University in the United States last week. 

After a stellar performance in her two years at Tyler Junior College where she picked several accolades, Koranga had a myriad of suitors but settled for Troy University.

However, unbeknown to many, the youngster almost quit basketball last year, in her last season at Tyler as she struggled with a patella injury.

The General Psychology student admits that at some point, she thought her career as a basketballer had come to an end and was ready to pack and leave for Kenya.

“It was bad. I did not think I was going to get back. I used to call my parents crying every night. I was ready to quit and come home but my family gave me the strength to keep going and keep fighting to recover fully.

It was a tough time but I am happy I came out stronger,” Koranga who has Kenyan internationals Ariel Okall and Emmanuel Koranga for siblings told People Sport via Skype from her US base last week. 

She added: “I had issues with patella overuse. My usage rate was too high as I was playing for many minutes.

Practice here is also intense. I persevered the whole academic year, playing through adversity. I missed a couple of practice sessions, about four matches and was unable to do post-season workouts.”

The youngster says it took the concerted efforts of athletics trainers and her mother to recover fully.

She got back to active training when she took part in the national team assignment in Uganda at the Zone Five championships in June.

“I went through the necessary workouts and treatments but I was not fully recovered by summer. I was home for summer break and my mother played a huge role in my recovery as she massaged my leg and stretched me out,” she said.

Journey to Trojan

As she struggled with her injury, Troy University showed interest in her. March 2019, marks her journey to becoming a Trojan.

When the recruiting process came, their interest in her while she was not at her best helped in deciding to settle at Troy.

“It was a tough process as I had to choose from four top schools. I settled for Troy University after consultations with my family.

My choice was based on the atmosphere I was assured of. They are family-oriented and assured me of graduating in two years.

The fact that they came to me in April 2019 during the open visit period when I was still struggling with injury, after following my progress in the national tournament for more than a month, also helped me in settling for them,” she says.

Koranga, a former Shimba Hills student credits her good foundation on basic skills for the smooth transition in her junior college playing career.

According to her, she only had to adjust her work-out regime to match the intensity and playing style in the United States.

She, however, admits it still took her close to four months to adapt to her new way of life in culture, new people, new style of play, time difference among others.

With the stage set for greater things in her career, Koranga dreams of playing in the Euro League or the lucrative Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

She is aware of the high expectations Troy University has over performance and balancing class work and sports but is ready for the work ahead.

During her stay at Tyler Junior College, in the National Junior Collegiate Athletics Association (NJCAA) league, she was named the 2020 Women Basketball College Association (WBCA) Player of the Year.

Amassed points

She was the nation’s number two junior college recruit according to World Exposure Report composite ranking. Additionally, she was named in the World Exposure and NJCAA first teams All-American.

She amassed over 1,000 points and 750 rebounds in her two-year career. The youngster finished sixth in the nation for blocks (92), 16th for total points at 590 and fifth in rebounding at 407.

She tallied 26 double-doubles in 31 starts, averaging 19.0 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.

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