In a repeat of last season’s quarter finals and finals respectively, Ulinzi Warriors take on Thunder while Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) play Strathmore University Blades in the semifinals of the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) men’s league playoffs this weekend.
Ulinzi Warriors beat Umoja 2-0 in the best-of-three quarter-finals and so did KPA against United States International University-Africa (USIU-A) Flames and Blades against Kenya College of Accountancy (KCA). Thunder, however, had to play a Game Three decider against Equity Bank winning the series 2-1.
Game One and Two of the best-of-five series jump off Saturday at Nyayo National Stadium Indoor court with Warriors first on the court at 3pm against the Eastlands-based Thunder.
Under coach William Balozi, the soldiers are out to better their performance against coach Sadat Gaya’s side, hoping to clinch a 3-0 win for a slot in the finals. They will, however, have to fight every inch of the way as Thunder are no pushovers. During the regular season, the two sides played to 50-50 performances.
“We know we are facing a tough side but we have a game plan on. We will fight from the onset and use our big men to finish the job. Stopping our opponent’s runs is also top on our to-do list if we are to win the weekend matches comfortably and gain an advantage,” said Balozi.
His team captain William Ochieng says they have made the necessary adjustments and will have a better match against Thunder compared to last season’s quarters where they won 2-1.
“We have worked on our defence which cost us the match last season forcing us to head to Game Three and rectified the mistakes we made in the regular league match loss.
Good defence will result in a better offence and I believe we can post a 3-1 win into the finals,” said the center player adding that they will only miss Richard Osano in the squad that did duty in last season’s matches.
Meanwhile, holders KPA have a date with hard fighting Blades at 4:30pm. The Dockers are chasing a third consecutive title while the students are searching for their second ticket to the finals having made their debut last season.
“We have to defend aggressively and contain Blades’ strong guards. Most importantly, we have to play as a unit. If we get the defence right we will be home and dry in our offence,” said KPA head coach Sammy Kiki.