NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 17 – Cyprus based centre Tom ‘Bush’ Wamukota starred and was named Most Valuable Player as the Nairobi Morans overwhelmed Kampala City’s Red Stars to clinch the Africa City Challenge with a huge 71-49 score.
It was expected to be a competitive affair between the two rival cities especially after Nairobi outwitted the Ugandans by two baskets in their earlier meeting, but a fully charged Nyayo Gymnasium and an on form Wamukoto ensured the Morans carried the day.
The seven-foot centre has just completed his contract with Girne University in North Cyprus and was in Nairobi for holiday before embarking on a new pro-stint most likely in Japan.
“It feels great coming back home and inspiring the team to such a win. I am very happy with how much the standard of the game has grown locally and I know in a matter of time, more players will be playing pro basketball,” the Maseno High School alumni told Capital Sport.
The centre was a darling of the crowd especially with his ‘phone in hand’ celebration and he explained just why he celebrated that way.
“The guys called me late into the team like barely hours and that was just to tell them, yo, boys, that’s why you called me! That’s why I picked your call!” the bubbly Wamukota explained.
The Nyayo Stadium was lit from tip off with the gymnasium full to the brim and the crowd charged to the highest decibels. It is this home support that gave the Morans a good start, winning the quarter with a nine point margin, 20-11.
Nairobi Thunder’s Griffin Ligare and Co-Op Bank’s James Mwangi were doing well to drive the team from the back and the Kampala side could not handle.
The second quarter was more competitive with the Ugandans coming back in full force, making advantage of rebounds which the Morans were slow to react and pick. The Red Stars pushed the score to a one basket margin, but the home side still went to the break 35-24 up.
But Morans were to bounce back right at it in the third quarter, but their push was slowed down with Griffin Ligare having to be wheeled out to the ambulance after being struck in the face by an elbow from Michael Makiadi, a Kenyan playing for Betway Power in Kampala.
But still, Morans were not stopping and they stretched the lead to 60-33 heading into the final quarter before finishing up the job with a healthy 22 point gap.
Earlier on, Mogadishu City picked bronze after bouncing back from a lousy first quarter to win the game with a 92-76 score. Mogadishu enjoyed enormous support from the Somali community residing in Kenya who had come out in their full voices.
The tournament involving teams from Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda was sponsored by Kwese Sports.