First-time Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) finalist Strathmore University Blades’ long-serving coach Tony Ochieng is confident that his side will make history when they face Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) by clinching their maiden title.
Blades stunned former champions Ulinzi Warriors to a 3-1 defeat to qualify for their first finals and the players as well as Ochieng are buoyant of a win, which captain George Okoth says is dedicated to their departed captain Bill Oguso.
“We lost our captain in 2016 and last year the season was really tough for us and we did not make it to the playoffs. Picking up as a team and restructuring through it all to achieve what we have has been very monumental for us,” said Okoth.
The captain says dedicating their achievement in each stage of their title campaign to their departed teammate has served as a motivation as well as using their underdog tag to their advantage, having lost both matches to Warriors in regular season.
“We will maintain our focus and zeal as clearly we are the underdogs. However we are taking a big heart to the finals with the aspect that it is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog,” said Okoth. On his side coach Ochieng says that having a young squad as all his players are below the age of 22 has given Blades the stability needed to face off with any opponent.
“My players are young and maybe inexperienced compared to our opponents, but we have proved that mental strength as well as using our strengths is a game changer. I have a rotational squad and that has really helped us as the issue of burn-out has not presented itself as a challenge so far,” said Ochieng.
Meanwhile Warriors head coach William Balozi admits to having a challenge in his playing unit and has promised to go back to the drawing board as the team prepares for the new league.
“We will not break from training as we have a lot of work to do to make the team better judging from our performance in the semi-finals,” he said adding that fatigue was a huge factor in their loss having played for two consecutive seasons without a proper break.