NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 25 – The Kenya Morans will take on Morocco in the semi-final of the inaugural FIBA Afrocan Championship in Bamako, Mali on Thursday night after seeing off Tunisia 82-76 in overtime in Wednesday’s quarter final.
The Morans had come from 33-36 down at halftime to take command of the second and third quarters, but a lapse in concentration with two turnovers from line balls seeing the North Africans bridge a six-point gap to force the game into overtime with a 68-68 score.
Kenya who won the Zone Five Championship in Uganda last month for the first time ever had overturned the lead by the Tunisians, opening a seven-point gap to go 53-46 up at the end of the third quarter.
Kenya looked on course for a sweet victory after seeing off a late resurgence from the Tunisians who took the tie to a two-point gap at 62-60 with 3:16 left on the clock. The Morans stretched back to the lead to lead 68-62 with 55 seconds on the clock left.
With instructions from the technical bench to keep possession and run down the clock, Morans saw their nerves give in and the Tunisians forced the game into the five-minute overtime.
But, there was no room for mistakes this time round as the team running on the engines of skipper Griffin Ligare and the indefatigable Erick Mutoro in the play-making roles ensured the game was safe with a sweet victory.
Ligare was Kenya’s best performer of the night as he sunk in 22 points, swinging in four of his five free throws including two in overtime that ensured Kenya maintained a safe distance over Tunisia.
Centre Tom Wamukoto also had a blistering game, contributing 21 points with 14 rebounds and one block.
Meanwhile, star player Tyler Ongwae increased his point-tally in the tournament to 89 after adding on 14 from the Tunisia game having already picked up 75 to sit top of the tournament scoring charts.
The Denmark-based player has been Kenya’s epicenter in the tournament with his buzzer tyhrow against Ivory Coast in the round of 16 sending Kenya to the last eight. He says his biggest wish would be to see Kenya stand a top the medal brackets.
“Honestly I don’t have personal ambition whatsoever in the competition but my resolution is for Kenya and for Kenyans globally, but as a player I will feel on top of the world if we make it to the podium,” Okari, named the Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) sportsperson of the month in June told Fiba.com.