Former Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) Premier League men’s champions Ulinzi Warriors jump off their title campaign against Umoja today in the best-of-three quarter finals as action returns to Nyayo National Stadium Indoor Arena.
The soldiers finished second in regular season after 15 wins in 20 matches for 35 points while their Eastlands-based opponents placed seventh at 30 points from 10 wins.
Going by the regular season head-to-head statistics in regular season, Warriors seem to have a clear cut advantage having won both home and away matches but head coach William Balozi has downplayed their perceived advantage saying that playoffs are a whole new ball game.
“Umoja are a good side and we expect them to come hard at us. They had a good second leg and we cannot underrate their ability. However, we are ready for the playoffs and are going for a win in Game One as that will reduce the pressure for us in Game Two,” said Balozi
Balozi’s charges completed their regular league fixtures three weeks ago but the tactician has kept the players busy. The side participated in a Kisumu County organised tournament winning the trophy two weeks ago.
“A long layoff was not an option despite completing our fixtures earlier. We only took a three-day break after the tournament in Kisumu and have since been in training. I have my full squad and we are ready to fight for the title, one match at a time,” said Balozi.
The Warriors versus Umoja encounter will be preceded by a clash between Strathmore University Blades and Kenya College of Accountancy University (KCA) as the varsity sides engage in a match that has all the ingredients of a thriller.
En-route to the playoffs, KCA won their last regular league match 45-42 against World Hope, in early October, to finish with 11 wins and nine losses while Blades rose from a four match losing streak to win their last two fixtures for 12 wins in 20 matches.
Holders and regular league leaders Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) men take on United States International University- Africa (USIU-A) Sunday as the former look to defend the title they won last year against defunct Co-operative Bank Spartans.