The United States International University (USIU-A), on Friday evening, won double titles during the finals of the Zuku Universities Basketball League (ZUBL) Nairobi Conference held at the Nyayo national stadium.
The USIU Flames edged out University of Nairobi’s Dynamites 66-37, while their men counterparts, the USIU Tigers, were 73-45 winners over Technical University. Besides pocketing Ksh20,000, USIU will lead the Nairobi Conference finalists to the ZUBL National finals to be held at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani between the 11th and 12th October.
The Nairobi Conference finals were aired live by Zuku in full HD on Zuku Sports Channel 300, this being the second ZUBL matches to be broadcast after last weekend’s Western Conference finals in Eldoret.
Coming to the conference finals, TUK boasted of a single loss throughout the season and, charged by their fanatic supporters who had thronged the Nyayo gymnasium, had a solid performance in the opening two quarters.
TUK’s trio of Hope Roberts, Raymond Wanjohi and Malinga Tugee were in good form in the first period, taking advantage of the weak USIU defensive play to penetrate and score easy baskets.
Nevertheless, TUK will blame themselves for missing out on free throws in the first quarter that allowed the Tigers to bag a 16-11 win. TUK however regained the plot towards the end of the second quarter overtaking the Tigers with quick fast breaks to lead 29-26 with a minute to half time.
Though TUK won the second quarter 15-19, Francis Okello regained USIU’s lead in the final 20 seconds with a quick layup and free throws that saw the Tigers lead 31-30 overall at half time.
USIU had a different play strategy in the second period, changing their tactical approach from zonal to man marking, pressing TUK in their own third and cutting out their distributor Raymond Wanjohi. This worked out incredibly for the Tigers as they managed to open an assailable lead in the third quarter, easily winning with a 25-04 score line.
The story remained the same in the final quarter as USIU frustrated TUK by holding onto the ball while denying them any opportunity to penetrate, as the Tigers won the quarter 17-11.
“We had a lazy approach in the first half where we sat back and waited for them to attack us,” said USIU coach, David Maina. “We changed our approach in the second half and that gave us an edge over them, since we couldn’t allow them to penetrate through as they did in the first half.”
USIU’s Joel Ntambwe led the Tigers with 15 points and 9 rebounds, while
Kevin Kigotho managed 10 points for the victors. Hope Roberts scored 13
points for TUK. USIU later dedicated their title to coach Maina’s mum who
passed away this week on Wednesday.
The women national defending champions, USIU Flames, are yet to drop a match this season. Such has been their fine form that pundits have predicted they are the team to beat in the national finals next weekend.
Welcoming back their star player, Hilda Indasi, who was at the Maputo Afrobasket Games with the national team, the Flames had an easy ride over their rivals, UoN Dynamites, winning all quarters 14-10, 11-08, 24-06 and 17-13.
Indasi was the top scorer of the day, bagging 22 points, with two three pointers shots. Zipporah Adhiambo and Linda Mfuchi each scored 13 points for the Flames while Janet Akoth had 16 points for UON.
Undoubtedly, Indasi was named the Nairobi Conference Most Valuable Player but she said,“Without your team, you cannot achieve anything. I thank my
team mates for their support and I hope we will continue in the same way
through to the finals,”