Top four contest heats up with Thunder, Ulinzi, KPA and Equity

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 00:00 |
Eric Mutoro of Ulinzi dribbles past Faheem Juma of Thunder in their men’s Premier League encounter in past encounter. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

Nairobi City Thunder, Ulinzi Warriors, holders Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Equity Bank are locked in a top four race as the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) men’s regular league enters homestretch.

Thunder picked maximum points over the weekend in their two fixtures against World Hope and Embakasi Youth (EMYBA) to keep hopes of topping the league table going into the playoffs.

In the absence of skipper Griffins Ligare and injured Charles Kituyi, Thunder played a relatively slow match to beat World Hope 58-41 (22-10, 17-8, 10-9 9-14) as their opponents’ Evans Orenge and Charles Otieno top scored at 13 and 12 points respectively. Kelvin Chogo sunk 12 for the winning side.

Against EMYBA, coach Sadat Gaya’s charges had to dig dip after their opponents assumed a six-point lead going into the breather. Thunder played a better game in the third quarter to put a nine-point cushion between them and EMYBA. 

Tony Mwendwa watched in disappointment as his 24 points went down the drain. Ancette Wafula and Kevin Chogo scored 23 and 22 points respectively for Thunder.

“We struggled against EMYBA but that was expected from the way we played against them in the first leg. The two wins take us closer to sealing top position but we still have three matches to play, two against tough opponents. We have to win the remaining matches,” said Gaya.

Thunder are currently top of the standings, having played two more matches than rivals KPA and Warriors whom they are yet to face in the second leg.

Having handed Warriors their only loss this season, Thunder are looking to complete a double against the soldiers. It will be a similar scenario against defending champions KPA even as they hope United States International University- Africa (USIU-Africa) do not pull a surprise.

KPA tactician Sammy Kiki is keen to pick maximum points from the remaining five fixtures. He is set to face Thunder and Equity away before hosting Lakeside, Strathmore Blades and USIU-Africa.

“The matches against Thunder and Equity are tricky and are a must-win. That will ensure we make it to the top four and get a favourable opponent in the playoffs” said Kiki, whose squad will be boosted by the availability of Tom ‘Bush’ Wamukota for the remaining fixtures. 

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