Last updated 7 months ago | By Elizabeth Mburugu
Ken Wachira starred as champions Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) overpowered Strathmore University Blades in game one of the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) men’s Premier League quarter-final play-offs at Nyayo Gymnasium.
Wachira was on fire sinking 28 points to steer KPA to a deserved 86-73 win and a 1-0 advantage going into next weekend’s showdown set for Makande Hall, Mombasa.
Ariel Okal and Reegan Oyugi added 15 and 14 points for the dockers while Ronnie Gundo top scored for Blades with 16.
An elated KPA coach Sammy Kiki said they had achieved their first aim but their job was not done yet.
“We cannot afford to lose focus because Blades are a very good side and so we must be at our best to enhance our chances of advancing to the semis,” Kiki said.
After a balanced first quarter that ended in an 18-point tie, Wachira, Okal and Job Byron put up a spirited fight in the second period as the dockers scored 22 points against the students 17 to open a five-point lead at halftime.
There was no looking back for KPA, who were playing their first local match since returning from Madagascar where they had won all their round one matches of the Basketball Africa League.
The trio of Oyugi, Okal and Wachira would cause more trouble for the students who were then playing catch up.
Fidel Okoth, Cliff Alela, Martin Ouma and Reuben Muraya fought to regain their footing but the dockers played well both offensively and defensively to ensure they secured a nine-point lead going into the final period.
KPA captain Victor Odendo led with 11 points in the final quarter as his side scored 25 points four more than the students to secure the victory and set one foot into the semis.
The dockers now need to win the second of the three-game contest to book a date with former champions Ulinzi Warriors who beat Lakeside 2-0 in the quarters.
In the women’s title chase, KPA, who lost their title to Equity Bank last year, beat Eagle Wings 78-43 to take a 1-0 lead.