Lynette Matheka @PeopleSports11
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is savouring a rare double in the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) Premier League after both their men and women’s teams were crowned champions last weekend.
To make it even sweeter, the two teams won the titles at their Mombasa backyard, KPA women dethroning Equity Bank Hawks while their male counterparts defended their crown after fending off a late rally from Strathmore University Blades.
This is the first time the coastal giants have sealed a double since 1991 when now coaches Samuel Kiki (men) and Antony Ojukwu (women) were playing for KPA men. However, KPA could have done this a little earlier had their women’s side not floundered in the last fours years where they reached as many straight finals and lost all prior to last week’s triumph.
“I had to sign new players in 2014 after most of the 2013 winning squad left and that meant losing some momentum. It has been four years of playing in the finals and losing to different teams but my players have matured now and we have reclaimed our rightful place in the premier league,” said Ujukwu.
To show their level of maturity, the players had an unbeaten run in the Premier League, leading up to the finals where they won 3-0 in the play-offs, ran riot in the Africa Zone V competition in Uganda and held their own in Africa Basketball Championships in Angola.
The men’s side, under coach Kiki, was given a little scare by Strathmore as after taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five play-off finals, the students won Game Three, forcing the fourth tie which they clinched on Sunday to defend their title.
Surprisingly, the team is composed of players who are not based in Mombasa with captain Samuel Ochola, Joseph Ouma and Jerry Wekesa the only ones based at the coast. Tobias Odumbe, 2016 Most Valuable Player, is based in Kianyaga, Kirinyaga county, Ariel Okal in Nakuru, lethal forward Martin Kitongo in Busia while Victor Bosire resides in Nyeri.
Evans Leting and Victor Odendo are based in Kisumu with the other squad members in Nairobi. “It is a huge challenge for us as we only have one or two days to train together. However, the support the management accords us goes a long way in ensuring the time we have for training is flawless,” said Kiki.