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Students ensure place after landing eighth spot in basketball league final

Viden Ochieng and Lynette Matheka @PeopleSport11

United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) men’s team, Tigers, will play Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) in the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) league playoffs quarters expected to jump off in November.

USIU-Africa Tigers booked the eighth slot on Saturday without breaking a sweat as they were handed maximum points courtesy of the no-show Trailblazers.

Tigers went to the weekend matches, against Trailblazers and Umoja, fighting for the remaining final eight slots alongside Kisumu’s Lakeside, but the latter’s goose was cooked when they lost to Strathmore Blades 68-66 on Saturday. Lakeside also lost their Sunday match against holders KPA.

During the Sunday match, defending champions KPA recorded an impressive win of 79-57 against Lakeside in a match played at Kisumu’s Jomo Kenyatta Sports Grounds. Despite the loss, the Kisumu-based side is, however, safe from relegation but will miss out in the playoffs.

In a post-match interview KPA coach Sammy Kiki downplayed the importance of the win maintaining that his side had already booked a slot for the playoffs.

“I am happy for my team’s strong character though the win was more of a finality since we had already secured a slot in the playoffs”, he said.

The dockers started the match on a high, thanks to their clinical finishing that saw them scope the first quarter with 21 points against Lakeside’s 18. The visitors continued with their dominance in the second quarter winning by a bigger margin at 24-8. However, a recollected Lakeside almost upset the visitors in the third quarter after staging up a spirited fight that saw them losing by a narrow 14-13 score.

The same script was almost repeated in the last quarter which saw them (Lakeside) going down by just one basket with the quarter ending at 20-18.

With one match left on KPA’s regular season fixtures, against Trailblazers, Kiki’s charges shift focus to the playoffs that he opines bare importance for his side. “The trickiest assignment lies at the playoffs level since it’s a knockout. Our plan is to prepare early and properly to enable us reach the finals,” he said.

Lakeside’s coach George Onassi hailed his side for showcasing a good fight but lamented on finishing and poor defence which, he said cost them the two matches. “We played well but poor finishing and defence lapse denied us victory”, he remarked. In the women’s league, KPA registered their 16th win after beating relegation threatened Western Delight 88-37 having dominated in all fronts to register 25-9, 25-11, 10-5 and 18-12 quarters.

Meanwhile, Evalyne Itabo and Melissa Akinyi top scored for Storms at 17 and 14 points respectively in a 51-34 outcome against Footprints. Storms continue to put pressure on KPA for the second position in regular season as this was their 15th win.

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