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GNBC joins KPA for final stage of the Road to 2020 Africa Basketball League

Last updated 11 months ago | By Ernest Ndunda

KPA's Valentine Kyakinda with the ball as Cobra's captain Samir Cosmas follows. [Courtesy]

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) were crowned champions at the Africa Basketball League Group F qualifiers that ended Sunday night in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

The dockers coached by former international Sammy Kiki whitewashed Usoni of Comoros 121-74 in their last match of the round-robin tournament.

The three-time national champions KPA harvested all the eight points to top the group and qualify for the final qualifiers set for November 26 to December 1 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Other teams that have qualified for the final stage from other groups are Patriots of Rwanda, City Oilers of Uganda, Lions of Namibia and Mozambique’s Ferroviarro and GNBC from Madagascar. The top three teams from the Rwanda event will automatically qualify for the inaugural Africa Basketball League that throws off in March 2020.

The top six teams from the final qualifying rounds will then join champions from Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia to complete the Basketball Africa League (BAL) 2020 regular season lineup of 12 teams.

In the KPA and Usoni match, the dockers played an aggressive full-court system to down the Comoros team in the match they led from the onset to the final.

KPA led 34-17 in the first quarter before they enjoyed a comfortable 59-30 at the breather. KPA extended the lead 87-45 in the third quarter before easily wrapping the game at 121-74.

Jab Ayodi steered KPA to victory after bagging 24 points that included 11 rebounds to emerge as the top scorer. Other contributors for the winners were Kennedy Wachira and Ekiru Paul (19) and 16 points respectively.

Saula El-Had topped for the Comoros side with 33 points, which included five rebounds with Hamid Said adding 12. KPA had 29 points from turnovers against Usoni’s 15.

Kiki was full of praise for his players, saying they played well throughout the tournament.

“Our focus now shifts to Rwanda where we shall meet champions from other qualifying groups,” said Kiki.

“Getting to the next stage is only the first part of the plan. The next one will be to become even more visible on the African scene. We cannot rest now. We want to make it to BAL 2020 and we will not leave any stone unturned to get there,” said joyful Kiki.

Ayodi, 6ft9in, said after the game: “We came here with the intention of clinching one of the two top spots. It is done and we are looking forward to Rwanda ties.”

Gerdarmerie Nationale Basketball Club (GNBC) from Madagascar took home advantage to clinch the last ticket available for Group F teams thanks to a comprehensive 86-63 win over South Sudan’s Cobra Sports.

With a good run from Elly Randriamampionona (22 points), seven rebounds and four assists, the Malagasy side delighted their home fans.

Aina Ranaivosoa’s men dominated their opponents from the beginning to the end.

“It was not such a difficult game. They gave us a good run, but we were disciplined and had it all from the go,” Randriamampionona said.

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