CLUBS CHASE OKAL’S NOD: KPA's centre forward wows suitors with his basketball artistry

Kenya Ports Authority Basketball star Ariel Okal
Kenya Basketball Federation's Most Valuable Player (MVP) Ariel Okal is spoilt for choice as several local and international clubs chase for his signature.

Since bagging the MVP medal last week during this year's national play-offs, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) centre forward has received invites from Oman, Tunisia and Uganda.

To compound to Okal's dilemma, several USA universities have also offered him basketball scholarships.

"The invites, both local and international, are overwhelming. I am taking each moment at a time to evaluate what is best for me. But my heart is still with KPA," said Okal.

The Asumbi College-trained primary school teacher said he will only remain at KPA if the dockers offer him better package.

"The package offered by other teams is attractive. Right now, I am still keeping the names of interested clubs a secret. They will be known soon," said Okal.

Okal does not hide his love for the US though, but what he is not sure of is, if he will be able to make it there after all.

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"I love Kenyan basketball. We are like a family. Kenya's basketball is also improving every day now that sponsors are coming on board. I know the game will be bigger and better in 2015," Okal said.

By virtue of winning the 2014 MVP status, Okal received Sh50,000 from Menengai Oil Refineries, who also awarded Zetech University with Sh400,000 and gave Umoja Sh200,000 for emerging winners and runners-up in the Kenya Basketball Federation men's Division One League.

"I have shared part of the money with my team mates, while I have used the rest to reward myself," he explained. Just like everyone, the six-foot Okal has been impressed with his meteoric rise in the game.

"Being named MVP is humbling. It's a great achievement. I remember admiring antics of some of KBF Premier League great players including Victor Odendo and Abel Nson. This is when I was starting to play some serious basketball while in high school."

After high school, Okal turned out for Nakuru Club where he played until last year before he was signed by KPA. At the coastal club, he was nurtured by head coach Antony Ojukwu to become a refined player. This saw him earn his first national call up in August.

He represented Kenya at the Africa Zone V Championship in Uganda, where Kenya finished fourth. Okal said he was inspired into basketball by his father, Elijah Koranga, who is a former Harambee Stars player.

Okal played football for a while, but unlike his father, football was not his thing. Due to his height, friends and teachers advised him to take up basketball and he has never looked back.

"It is a choice I am proud of. I enjoy playing basketball much more than football and that will not change anytime soon," Okal said.

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Kenya Basketball Federation Ariel Okal