Lynette Matheka @Peoplesport
Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) premier league finalists Strathmore University Blades are on a mission to clinch the title they missed last year as they fell to holders Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
Blades, who reached the finals last year under long-serving tactician Tony Ochieng, defied all odds to reach the decider of the 2017 season after beating favourites Ulinzi Warriors in the semi-finals and the coach says they have put that setback behind them and are looking at making it to the playoffs this season then work on clinching the title.
The side remains unbeaten in the four matches they have played so far in the new season and despite struggling to beat United States International University-Africa (USIU-A), Ochieng believes they are on track to hit their target of finishing in the top three in the first leg.
“We had played an international friendly on Saturday against Ghana Revenue who are very physical before meeting USIU on Sunday and the players had not rested well. We struggled in the first three quarters of the match but were able to recover in time to win 59-38,” said the coach.
In addition to retaining his squad that saw the team through to the finals last season, coach Ochieng has enlisted the services of four players Edgar Mieso a shooting guard, Mika Kiplagat and Amos Aduke playing in the centre position as well as Kennedy Dualo a point guard all from the university’s development sides.
“The four had come of age and their presence is already being felt in the premier league stage. In our four matches played, Mieso and Dualo have combined for not less than 20 points in each match and they can only get better now. Their energy is also unmatched,” said Ochieng.
The coach acknowledges that they will need to put more work into their matches this season since all the teams are out to beat them as opposed to last season where they went into some matches as the underdogs.
In other weekend matches, KPA ladies were still the better side as they faced off with Equity Bank’s Hawks to win 77-57 despite head coach Antony Ojukwu casting doubts in his current squad, having lost seven of their title winning players. The side also trounced Eagle Wings 70-30 in another match.