Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) women premier league champions Kenya Ports Authority’s (KPA) will start their title defence this weekend against promoted sides Masaku Sparks and Footprints as the league tips off on Saturday.
The side won their 12th KBF league title in February, dethroning Equity Bank Hawks after five years of waiting, a win head coach Antony Ojukwu attributed to a journey of hard work and intensity in training, further saying that the players had come of age in the game.
However, the coach is faced by a new challenge of assembling another formidable side after five of his players left with two more players’ fate uncertain two days to the league start.
“I lost five players and I am in talks with two more and I cannot speak on their fate. It is a blow as would be for any other team but I have made signings that I believe will fill the voids left by the five.
We are finalising our pre-season training and I am confident the players will be ready for the season this weekend,” said coach Ojukwu. KPA lost the services of Christine Akinyi who has been with the side for one season and Lilian Adera to Uganda’s Christian University Canons while Georgia Adhiambo penned a contract with Kampala City Council.
Bladine Ndayaa and Yolanda Ngoi chose to return to their home country Congo. Unconfirmed reports indicate last year’s Most Valuable Player and Sports Journalists Association of Kenya player of the month for February Felmas Adhiambo is among the two players who might be leaving the club too.
In their place, Ojukwu has captured the signatures of Kaya Tiwi star players Yvonne Atieno, Irene Anyango, Triza Othuon and Lilian Ocholla. Jeniffer Atieno and Lilian Mboga join the side from Asumbi Teachers College and Ulinzi respectively.
Also returning to the squad are Hellen Oketch and Yvonne Akinyi having recovered from injuries while Donnasama Achieng returns from a one-year stint in Uganda. “I had a squad of 14 last season but I intend to have 22 players this season.
I expect a busy year ahead and we have to be ready for that,” added Ojukwu. As they plan to defend both their league and FIBA Africa Zone V title with the coach having set his eyes on winning the Africa Cup too.