League champions KPA now shift focus to Africa League qualifiers

Victor Bosire L of Equity Dumas challenge Lenox Wanje of KPA during their Kenya Basketball Federation League match at Nyayo national stadium on May 25, 2023. KPA won 62-53. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

National men's basketball champions Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) coach Sammy Kiki believes he has a genuine chance of qualifying for the Africa's elite Basketball League next year.

"We worked hard to win the domestic league a fortnight ago. With the current players, we have the winning spirit inside them and our shift has moved to defending the national title and qualifying for the Basketball Africa League (BAL)," Kiki told Standard Sports.

KPA defeated Equity Bank Dumas 3-1 in the best of five play off final series to retain the title for the second year running after wrestling it from Ulinzi last year.

However, despite winning the league, Kiki is aware of the task ahead and said early preparations will definitely prepare the team well

"It won't be a walk in the park but we are ready to win the qualification matches and make it to the final level," said the coach adding that the dates for the qualifiers will be communicated soonest for early preparations.

KPA have participated in the BAL qualifying rounds twice in 2019 and last year but have not made it to the final top 12 for the top African league.

Egypt's Al Ahly which was making their debut defeated Senegal's AS Douanes 80-65 in the final to win the 2023 BAL edition in Kigali, Rwanda.

BAL league brings together the top 12 clubs in Africa to play in the final stage to crown the African club champions.
Kiki said his boys showed more determination to defend the national title.

"From the start of the season, I told the players that our focus is to qualify for the BAL group stages and they really lived up to the plan. God gave it to us,"said Kiki who is a staunch Catholic church believer.

"Two things we have in plan when the league kicks off is to start on a positive note and defend the title. Secondly it is a good preparation for the BAL qualifiers so that this time round we can be able to participate in the top African league," Kiki said.

On the possibility of recruiting new players, the coach said he will beef up the squad.

"I will beef up the squad with quality players in the areas where we didn't do well last season especially in rebounding and shooting," the coach said.

He said the team was intact after the conclusion of the league and the technical bench will be meeting soon to embark on the recruitment process.

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