International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Africa Zone Five Club Championship jumps off in Dar es Salaam on Sunday with Kenya represented by four teams that featured in the finals last season.
Holders Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) men and women are joined by Equity Bank’s Hawks and Strathmore University’s Blades in Dar es Salaam where the championship will run to October 7.
KPA women are out to defend the title they won in Uganda last year for the third consecutive gong.
The Dockers clinched the title in the 2016 edition against Uganda’s Kampala City Council Authority 72-27 to be crowned champions in a seven-team round robin competition.
In last year’s edition held in Kampala, the side picked from where they left, beating Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) nemesis Hawks 63-49 in the finals to retain the crown.
The two teams, KPA and Hawks will renew their rivalry in the regional front during the week-long event.
KPA men are out to better last year’s performance where they finished third after winning the playoff match against Uganda’s Betway Power.
KBF defending champions have had an almost perfect run in the premier league; losing just one match to former KBF champions Ulinzi Warriors.
“I have had a week’s training with a full squad and that will greatly influence our performance. Last year we narrowly lost in the semifinals to eventual champions Uganda’s City Oilers but we are targeting the finals this year. The chemistry of the team is great motivation and we will work on clinching the title,” said head coach Sammy Kiki.
Blades make their debut in the regional competition without key forward Brian Onyango due to a ligament injury that will put him down for three weeks. However, coach Tony Ochieng is upbeat the side will post good results and that the exposure will help them up their game in the local league.
Champions Oilers pulled out of the regional competition citing a busy domestic schedule giving room for a new champion to be crowned.
Reports also indicate that the other Ugandan men’s team KIU Titans, who were expected to make their debut in the championship, have also pulled out.
Meanwhile, KBF league action continues when second placed Warriors take on World Hope in the soldier’s final fixture in regular season. Coach William Balozi says they intend to finish in style so they are taking no chances against Hope despite their placing in the current standings.
In other matches Strathmore women play Kenyatta University Oryx while Zetech University take on Eagle Wings.
As the Premier and Division One leagues near conclusion, Nairobi Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs commence this weekend. The men’s side play round of 16 matches while women start their quarters encounters.