Ulinzi Warriors silence Thunder

By Elizabeth Mburugu: Sunday, October 6th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Basketball
Ulinzi's John Washika (left) and Faheem Juma of Thunder during Kenya Basketball Premier League match at Nyayo National Stadium, Gymnasium on Friday night, Oct 4, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Former Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) men's Premier League champions Ulinzi Warriors beat rivals Thunder 76-49 at Nyayo Gymnasium in a crunch match on Friday night. 

It was sweet revenge for the soldiers who avenged the only loss of the season having fell to Thunder in the first leg.

Warriors captain John Washika led from the front scoring 17 points same as James Mwangi while Antonio Bwire added 11.

Thunder's Kevin Chogo was joint top scorer with the Warriors duo while Griffin Ligare scored 11.  
The victory saw Ulinzi finish on top of the standings and secure a quarter-final play-offs date with the side that will finish eighth.

An elated Warriors coach William Balozi said they had accomplished their first goal of the season and they will now focus on the knockout stage.

"Finishing at the top was our first target and I am glad that we all worked hard and made it happen. We have one match against Umoja after which we will continue training in readiness for the play-offs," Balozi said. 

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Both sides went into the decisive clash knowing too well that their finishing on top of the standings depended on the outcome.

However, it was Thunder who seemed strong in the beginning as Chogo ruled the court to give them an early lead. Ulinzi would contain Chogo who was their major threat with Washika and Mwangi rising to the occasion to score and narrow Thunder's lead. Their effort saw them trail by a half a basket as thunder led 17-16. 

Warriors were unstoppable in the second quarter as their opponents seemed to have not turned up for the job. An impressive 19-9 score would see them take a comfortable 35-26 halftime advantage.

On resumption, Thunder seemed to have regained their footing once again but Ulinzi would take it 14-12 before completing the job 35-26 in the final period. 

In the women's Premier League, defending champions Equity Bank Hawks dismissed Kenyatta University (KU) Oryx 80-65.

Even so, the bankers were forced to work harder in the fourth quarter as the students threatened to cause a major upset as they led 59-56 with about seven minutes to play. Diana Apiyo scored a game high 34 with Equity's Betty Kananu scoring 22.

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