Limping KPA prepare for showdown
By Erick Ochieng’
Questions are being raised whether the Africa Zone Five and national women’s basketball champions Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) are ready to fly the national flag high as the continental championships beckon.
KPA recently qualified for the Africa Women’s Basketball Championship in Kampala, Uganda, after defeating Uganda’s KCC Leopards 67-45 in the final of the qualifiers.
But the win did not come easy as Rwanda’s APR hit KPA 64-39 before the Kenyan side got a foothold to steer to the finals.
During last year’s Africa Women’s Championship held at the Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium in Nairobi, despite playing at home, KPA was placed eighth, losing to debutants APR of Rwanda.
Desportivo of Mozambique won the event as Primero de Agosto of Angola emerged runners-up.
KPA’s current form is wanting and basketball pundits have raised questions whether the team will stand the test in Cotonu, Benin, where this years’ championship will be held in November. Recent KPA’s Premier League show against Eastern Queens was a disaster.
What was expected to be a show of might turned out a one-sided affair in favour of Queens who triumphed 68-45.
Queens are a newly formed outfit playing in the top league for the first time.
KPA wilted in the encounter as early as the first quarter where they trailed 14-4, recovered briefly in the second with the help of Irene Murambi, but were dead and buried in the third and the fourth quarters.
However, KPA could later recover and win the return tie.
But on the current form, KPA have no real hopes for a continental crown. Pundits maintain that, having been to many African Championships before, KPA should be aiming at a medal to show for their sweat. KPA started off their campaign for the Africa Championship in 1999 in Dakar, Senegal, where they wound up in fourth place.
In 2006 in Libreville, Gabon, they were placed tenth before returning eighth in 2007 in Maputo, Mozambique. Last year, the team retained the same position at home.
But coach Anthony Ojukwu insists his team is the best and will bounce back, starting with their return tie in the Premier League against Eastern Queens at their Makande Gymnasium in Mombasa.
"It was a historic win but the return leg will be fireworks. We are also gearing up for the Benin championship and people should just wait and see the results," Ojukwu said of his team.
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