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LEADING THE PACK: Upper Hill take the front-line as Kenya teams seek to seize the basketball trophies

BASKETBALL By Elizabeth Mburugu | August 26th 2016
Upper Hill's Desmond Osala of Nairobi county skip past Yusuf Omar of Laiser Hill during Metropolitan games at Laiser Hill Academy in Kajiado on saturday. PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD.

Former East Africa boys’ basketball champions Upper Hill ‘Uppah’ will lead Kenya’s campaign for basketball titles at this year’s Brookside East Africa Secondary School games that begin tomorrow in Eldoret. National winners Upper Hill will lead Alliance and Kapenguria Boys as they seek to reclaim the trophy that the country has failed to win for the past two years.

In the girls' battle, national champions Kaya Tiwi will be hoping to make a memorable entry to the regional scene. Together with returnees Buruburu and Barchando, they will be tasked to reclaim the crown Shimba Hills lost to St Mary’s Kitende last year.

Favourites Uppah won their maiden regional title in 2013 but failed to defend it in 2014, relinquishing it to Lord Baden Powell of Tanzania. They came close to reclaiming it last year but fell short as they lost 67-79 to ETG Nyakabiga of Burundi in the finals played in Huye, Rwanda.

Upper Hill coach Ronald Omangi told FeverPitch that his boys are ready to take the bull by the horns and snatch the title. “We have been preparing for this year’s competition and our main objective is to reclaim the title. My boys are not ready to settle for anything less than victory,” Omangi said. He added that their strategy is to take one match at a time and handle every opponent differently.

Upper Hill are in pool B together with Kapenguria who they launch their campaign against while the second pool tie will have PS Baptiste of Rwanda take on South Sudan representatives. In group A Alliance face an uphill task in their opener as they take on defending champions Nyakabiga whereas Buddo of Uganda will face off with Makongo of Tanzania. Ape Rugunga of Rwanda and Kibuli of Uganda will have a rest day in pool A and B respectively.

Buruburu who return to the regional extravaganza are hoping that their fifth attempt will be a success. Despite finishing second behind Kaya Tiwi at the nationals, Buruburu Coach Julius Otieno is confident that his girls are ready to fight for the trophy. “My girls are ready for the challenge our main objective is to lift the trophy,” Otieno said.

Buruburu have been at the regional games four times with their best performance being a fourth place finish in 2013. They are in pool A together with defending champions St Mary’s Kitende who beat Shimba Hills 74-55 to snatch the diadem last year, Nabisunza of Uganda, Loreto of Tanzania and Lycee de Kigali of Rwanda who they play in their opening match.

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