Griffin Ligare-led Thunder’s onslaught on Equity Bank’s sloppy defence as the two sides battled for the remaining final-four slot in Game Three of the ongoing Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) playoff on Tuesday night.
The diminutive, lethal point guard scored a match high 23 points and remained a true ‘floor general’ guiding his side to a 79-58 win to clinch the series 2-1 and book a date with former KBF champions Ulinzi Warriors.
Ligare combined well with Kevin Chogo for 45 points from the final tally, the latter having gifted Thunder the starting tempo scoring six of the first 15 points that his side scored without a reply from the bankers.
“Unlike in Game Two, our rebounds worked and we were scoring points that were hard to come by in the previous match. We also tightened our defence and our offence was aided by good steals and fast breaks. We hope to maintain the same morale and be injury free as we head into the semis,” said Thunder coach Sadat Gaya.
In the first quarter, Thunder raced to a 15-0 lead with the points from Chogo, two three-pointers from Nate Terry and a third one from Faheem Juma. Kevin Kigotho finally made the score 15-2 after three minutes of play with Alex Lugasi taking it to 15-5. However, the bankers could barely recover as the period ended 31-12.
The second and third periods ended 20-18 and 13-10 in favour of the bankers. Under the tutelage of Carey Odhiambo, the eventual losers fought tooth and nail to come nine points shy of leveling at the start of the last quarter, but it was too little too late as they lost their momentum allowing Thunder to win the period 20-13 for the final score.
“I am disappointed as a coach. This is not what I expected from my players as we had a game plan but the players seemed unwilling to execute it. We lost the match in the first quarter as it is hard to recover from a 19-point deficit. We now have to go back to the drawing board and work on how we handle high-pressure matches as this has been our main undoing this season,” said coach Odhiambo.