For Kenya Ports Authority, there's no looking back

KPA celebrate at the Africa Women's Basketball League. [FIBA]

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) might have lost the African title on Tuesday, but they surely proved their mettle.

KPA lost 103-59 to hosts and Egyptian giants Alexandria Sporting Club (ASC) in the final to win silver as curtains came down the inaugural 2023 FIBA Africa Women’s Basketball League (AWBL).

KPA stars Natalie Mwangale (left) and Rita Onyango celebrate at the Africa Women's Basketball League. [FIBA]

The Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) Women’s Premier League champions were so good that they only lost to the champions.

KPA, a first-timer semifinalist at FIBA Africa competitions, finished second after an impressive 5-2 winning-loss ratio. The dockers lost twice to Sporting.

Pooled in Group A alongside the champions, CNSS (RD CONGO), ⁠Customs (NIGERIA), ⁠and University of Doula (CAMEROON), the dockers saw off every team except the Egyptians, who defeated them 102-77.

KPA celebrate at the Africa Women's Basketball League. [FIBA]

KPA picked a 82-46 win over DR Congo’s CNSS, 73-53 against Nigeria Customs and 74-59 victory over Cameroon’s University of Doula.

A quarterfinal Kenyan derby emerged after Equity Hawks finished third in Group B where they face Inter Club (ANGOLA), ⁠Overdose (CAMEROON), ⁠ Aspac (BENIN) and ⁠Rwanda Energy Group (REG).

KPA blasted their local nemesis 81-66 to reach the semis as they renewed their rivalry with REG, a team they faced during the Zone V qualifiers. A narrow 101-97 victory lifted KPA to the final, where they lost to Sporting for the second time.

KPA celebrate at the Africa Women's Basketball League. [FIBA]

Victoria Reynolds, Natalie Mwangale, Madina Okot, Selina Okumu and Belinda Okoth led KPA in statistics showcasing a dynamic blend of skill and tenacity.

Reynolds has been a revelation, averaging 18.9 points per game with a sterling 50% field goal accuracy. Her prowess on the court is matched by Okot, whose remarkable 58.3% shooting has contributed a solid 14 points per game. Okot’s dominance is not just in scoring, but also on the boards, pulling down an impressive 11 rebounds per game.

Captain Mwangale, on the other hand, was the maestro of assists, distributing 7.6 per game while also contributing a healthy 8.7 points.

KPA's Rita Onyango (right) in action against Sporting at the Africa Women's Basketball League. [FIBA]

Okumu and Okoth have bolstered the squad with their resilience and defensive efforts. Okoth’s rebounding has been crucial, grabbing over six per game, while Okumu’s versatility has added depth to the team’s strategic plays.

The combined efforts have not only padded the stat sheets but also driven KPA towards the upper echelons of the continental championship, with their performances reflecting a balance of offensive aggression and defensive solidity.

KPA celebrate at the Africa Women's Basketball League. [FIBA]

KPA’s duo of Victoria Reynolds and Madina Okot completed the All-Tournament team as they helped the Kenyan champions reach the semis for the first time in the club’s history.

While Reynolds averaged a team-high 19 points per game and 4.7 assists per game, 19-year-old Okot, who finished as the AWBL’s top rebounder, contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds per game.

KPA's Madina Okot (left) in action against Sporting at the Africa Women's Basketball League. [FIBA]

Meanwhile, in the battle for the last step of the podium, Inter Clube of Angola, Africa’s most successful club, who last won their fifth African title in 2016, beat Rwanda Energy Group (REG) 83-68.

It was the Angolan champions’ first medal since finishing second at 2019 ACCW before Covid-19 pandemic halted the competition’s calendar for two years. 

Eight countries; Angola, Benin, Cameroon, DR Congo, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda, were represented in the first edition of the AWBL. Cameroon and Kenya had two teams each.

Three teams; Overdose Up Station, ASPAC and Universite de Douala - made their maiden appearance at a continental competition, while Nigeria Customs returned to the a FIBA competition for the first time in 26 years.

By AFP 1 hr ago
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