NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12- Despite finishing sixth in the regular Kenyan Basketball Federation (KBF) Premier League season, Mombasa-based Kenya Ports Authority delivered a superb turnaround, winning the 2016 men’s title with a 3-1 win over Co-Operative Bank in the best of five play-off series.
KPA had won the first two matches in Mombasa, but a slump in concentration on Saturday saw Co-Op Bank win game three to take the series to game four. The dockers though put back their A game on Sunday to win game four 79-66 and lift the title for the first time since 2014.
“This is a great day for me and the team. I don’t even know the words to use but I am excited. We finished sixth in the season and many people wrote us off. But today, we have bounced back and shown what we can do,” KPA head coach Anthony Ojukwu told Capital Sports after the match.
The coach blamed a relaxed attitude for their loss on Saturday, pointing out that his players thought they would stroll in and win the game easily to put the contest to a rest.
But a strong KPA side showed their mettle in game four, choosing to give their all and avoid the game five pressure to win the title early and quick.
It was a fast paced start to the game with the two sides stretching each other out before KPA, anchored by Victor Bosire and Arou Ramadhan both formerly of USIU-A playing out 25-22 winners.
KPA kept on their push and were dominant in the second quarter, sending the game to a 44-37 difference at half time.
After the break, the bankers came back stronger and managed to win the third quarter 20-19, but their push was thwarted with KPA showing their experience to take total control of the game and carried the fourth quarter 16-9.
-KPA vs Equity Hawks-
Ojukwu who also coaches the women’s side has a chance of completing a memorable double when he leads his girls to game five on Monday against Equity Bank Hawks.
The Mombasa-based girls forced the final into game five after winning game four 67-62.
Equity who finished third last season had won game three on Saturday after the two sides shared spoils in the first two rounds in Mombasa.
But the home side slumped, being punished by KPA for losing simple baskets and once in while loss of concentration.
KPA won the first quarter 15-11 but the two sides were tied at 18-18 in the second quarter, meaning the game went to break with KPA leading 33-29.
In the third quarter, Equity who played in front of their CEO James Mwangi came back stronger and managed to win 13-16, sending the game to a one point battle, the scores at 46-45 in favor of KPA.
Though they started on a low, the bankers came from a nine point difference in the final minutes of the game to take the scores to 62-63 with 1:04 to play on the clock.
However, a time out called by Ojukwu changed the face of the game, KPA coming back to take the scores to 67-62.
With 16 seconds left on the clock, Equity called for their final time out and opted to field in their second team to see out the few seconds and set up a mouth watering game five clash on Monday evening.