Former Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) champions Ulinzi Warriors and last season’s losing finalists Strathmore University Blades had a weekend to forget as they lost their respective matches despite being favourites in the encounters.
William Balozi’s men were up against students KCA University and with the soldiers having won the first leg encounter; they had been tipped to clinch the return match. However, tables were turned in the final minute of the encounter with KCA stealing the win by three points.
Warriors led all through the match in quarters of 17-15, 13-10 and 6-4 only to lose their concentration in the final set allowing the students to run rings in their half and win 13-7. William Ochieng was the top scorer in the match with 16 points.
“That was the worst display I have ever watched my players give. I could not believe those were the same players I coach. We lost concentration and our defence was terrible. We were caught on the offence with no one to defend fast breaks and that is how we lost the match, in the dying minutes of the final quarter, after leading all through” said Balozi.
He added, “Something has to give as we head to our next fixture against Trailblazers. We are aiming at winning the league and that means we have to finish in the play-off bracket. Things change in the playoffs and no team is a pushover at that stage, we have to handle our matches better.” Trailblazers have won two matches of the 11 played.
On his part, Blades coach Tony Ochieng was at pains to explain how his team lost 54-52 at the buzzer to newly-promoted World Hope who are currently bottom of the league standings.
“We were pinned down in the first quarter of the match and could not recover from there on. I had rotated four players but that is no excuse for the loss as all my players have equal capabilities. Our undoing was the casual manner in which the players handled the match,” said Ochieng.
Ochieng says that the loss serves as a wake-up call for the team to get their act together and work on their chemistry in the remaining matches. “By losing some of these fixtures, we are sending a very wrong message that we only prepare for ‘big’ opponents, which is not true. We have to intensify our training and ensure there’s no complacency in our handling of any match,” he added.
The two teams are chasing holders Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) who remain unbeaten after the first leg. However, KPA, have not been in action in the second leg as they are currently participating in the Kenya Communications Sports Organisations (Kecoso) Games in Kakamega.
Equity Bank men won their fixtures 64-55 and 52-46 against Trailblazers and Lakeside respectively. The leading pack, to KPA, of Equity, Blades and Warriors has lost four matches each.
In the women league, Storms and Equity Bank Hawks are leading the chase of holders KPA who, like their male counterparts, remain unbeaten in the league.