Last updated 9 months ago | By Washington Onyango
Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League sides Ulinzi Warriors and United States International University (USIU-Ladies) will defend their titles when the annual Biro Lich Basketball tournament kicks off at Jomo Kenyatta Sports grounds in Kisumu today.
Ulinzi and USIU were crowned men’s and women’s winners in last year’s edition after winning the finals against Barcadia Natives and Lady Bucks.
This year’s games mark the seventh edition of the tournament which aims at promoting basketball in the region as well as nurturing talent. Ulinzi head coach William Balozi has fired warning shots to title rivals ahead of the competition.
In an interview with Standard Sports, Balozi said he expects the tournament to be competitive, but his team is prepared for any eventuality as his players seek to retain the title.
He said his players, who are ready after securing KBF quarter-final play-offs slot, have trained well for the championship and they target their second consecutive title in Kisumu.
“Our target is to retain the trophy we won last year. The boys are raring to go after finishing top of the basketball premier league table and we will use this tourney to gauge our team ahead of the play-offs,” Balozi said.
His USIU-A Flames counterpart Cliff Owuor is upbeat of retaining their crown despite poor form in the league, which saw them relegated.
“We are the defending champions and we are going to Kisumu to win.
“We have not had a wonderful season in the Premier League but I am confident we will perform well. Our journey for survival starts by winning this tournament,” he said.
The number of teams competing in this year’s tournament has increased to more than 20 teams from last year’s 10.
Brian Lusaga of Pacho 360 Hoops, who are the tournament’s organisers, said this year’s edition will include dunking and shooting competitions and regional schools like Maseno School, Kamusinga Boys, Tigoi Girls, St Peters Mumias and Butere Girls will be involved.
Kisumu Lakeside, LadyBucks, Zetech University, Maweni Hornets of Mombasa league and Nairobi Basketball Association’s Safe Spaces and Moischers are among teams expected.
The tournament is also sponsored by Coca Cola, Willis Lounge, Homeland Events, ADAK, Royal Dental and Kisumu County Government.