Kenya Baskeball Federation (KBF) men league title holders Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) have their eyes set on defending the title they won last season despite losing a number of their key team members.
Head coach Samuel Kiki believes he still has his squad intact and the exit of last season’s Most Valuable Player Evans Leting, centre forward Ariel Okal and Frank Mayoti will not affect the team’s performance in the new season that threw off last weekend.
Leting and Mayoti have been signed by Ethiopian clubs while Okal who last season returned to the club after a short stint in Uganda, has moved to Seychelles. In their place, Kiki has enlisted the services of four new players including Salim Ali, a point guard from Co-operative Bank Spartans, who was unused by the club in the last season.
Dick Aran, a forward, returns to the dockers side after a three-year absence after he opted to play for Mombasa local league side Baobab. He joins two more signings, one from Africa Nazarine University and another from Lakeside.
“I might have lost key players from my squad but the remaining players and those that I have signed are capable of handing me the title again. They have the same abilities and will perfectly play the roles I have signed them for,” Kiki said.
The coach has his focus more on preparing his players for a good showing in this year’s FIBA Africa Zone Five club championship where he will be seeking to reach the finals after coming close in the last edition held in Uganda. “I am not worried about the premier league at all since I know we are equal to the challenge. I am looking more at improving our performance in the regional club championship. We finished third in the last edition, having lost to eventual winners City Oilers of Uganda. This was an improvement from our participation in 2015 where we finished sixth and I am looking forward to reaching the finals,” he said.
The team began their title defence with convincing wins against Trailblazers 61-29 and World Hope 69-42. They will be in action next weekend against Spartans.
Meanwhile Zetech take on Eagle Wings while Co-operative Bank face USIU-Africa in Saturday’s women’s fixtures while in men’s matches Umoja host KCA-University, Ulinzi play Trailblazers, Co-operative take on Equity and USIU-Africa take on Thunder.
The weekend matches will be played at USIU-Africa University courts with and exception of two Sunday fixtures pitting Lakeside who host KCA in Kisumu while Western Delight welcome Equity in Mumias in a women premier league match.