CO-OP, KPA IN FINAL: Champions Ulinzi beaten in basketball play-offs

George Omenda (right) of KPA dribbles the ball against Josef Khaemba (left) of Co-op Bank in a men's match during a KBF national basketball league at the KPA Makande GYM, October 31, 2016. KPA won 61-51. [PHOTO BY GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Co-op Bank have sailed through to the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) men’s Premier League finals.

The two sides won their respective semi-finals play-offs, playing to the best of five series at 3-1 apiece. Visiting KPA crushed defending champions Ulinzi Warriors while Co-op Bank defeated Nairobi City Thunder.

At the same time, Zetech University and Umoja have qualified for next year’s Premier League.

Umoja beat visiting Eldonets 3-1 while Zetech saw off Kenyatta University Pirates 3-0 in the men’s Division One semis play-offs where the finalists have a direct ticket to the premier.

Everyone had expected hosts Ulinzi to give a good account of themselves, especially after forcing a 1-1 draw at Makande Gymnasium in Mombasa last weekend.

However this was not to be as visiting KPA triumphed in Game Three 62-53 before finishing Game Four with a 76-72 victory at Nyayo National Stadium on Monday evening.

Martin Kitonga led the dockers to commence Game Four on a high note by winning the first quarter 21-10.

KPA went ahead to bag the second period 17-15 before the break.

On resumption, Ulinzi fought back and, with the help of Eric Mutoro, forced a 16-16 tie in the third quarter.

Mutoro, who contributed 17 points in the encounter as his teammate William Ochieng added 21, steered Ulinzi to bag the last quarter 31-22.

Kitonga had 20 points for Ulinzi as his teammate Evans Letting sank 17.

KPA also registered 19-14, 11-15, 21-13, 11-11 scores as they won Game Three 62-53 against Ulinzi at the same venue.

KPA coach Sammy Kiki said he was grateful that his charges applied skills and techniques they had learnt in training during their midweek sessions last week to kick the defending champions out of the race.

“I now believe this title is ours to lose. We had agreed to take one game at a time and it worked for us. We can’t wait to challenge Co-op Bank in the finals,” said Kiki.

Ulinzi head coach William Balozi said they would work on their shortcomings this season to strengthen the team for next year’s league.

Co-op Bank Spartans won Game Four 68-53 against Nairobi City Thunder and are now in the race for an eighth title in the league.

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