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KPA keep B-ball Africa League dream alive

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) players line up before a match at the qualifying tournament for the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in Madagascar. PHOTO/FIBA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) kept their dream of competing at the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) next year alive when they progressed to the second round of qualification after topping their group in round one qualifiers in Madagascar this weekend.

The Kenyan champions finished their first round campaign with a 100pc record winning all their games, anchored by national team forward Okall Koranga who starred in all four games.

“We came here with the intention of clinching one of the two top spots. It is done and we are looking forward to what is coming next. Getting to the next stage is only the first part of the plan. The next one will be to become even more visible on the African scene,” Okall said after they booked a second round ticket.

He added; “We cannot rest now. We want to make it to BAL 2020 and we will not leave any stone unturned to get there.”

The dockers started their campaign with a 98-84 victory over home side Gandarmerie Nationale Basketball Club with Okall performing superbly scoring 18 points, picking eight rebounds and four assists.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) player Job Ayodi after a match at the qualifying tournament for the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in Madagascar. PHOTO/FIBA

Job Ayodi also put up a stellar performance for the Mombasa based side, accumulating 20 points in the haul as they survived a scare in the last quarter when the home side threatened to bridge the gap.

They made light work of Seychellois side Beau Vallon Heat in the second match, thrashing the islanders 131-54. This time it was Kennedy Wachira who shone for KPA with 27 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

Okall clocked 22 minutes of the 40 and still managed to accumulate 21 points while Keegan Oyugi contributed 16.

The toughest match for the Kenyans was against South Sudan’s Cobra. They easily won the first quarter 24-15 but faced a tough subsequent two quarters with the South Sudanese winning 20-16 and 21-17. However, the dockers rose from the dead in the final quarter to win 24-22.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) power forward Okall Koranga rises for a lay up during a match against Beau Vallon Heat at the qualifying tournament for the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in Madagascar. PHOTO/FIBA

Okall rose up to the occasion recording an impressive double double of 14 points, 14 rebounds and five assists to secure a third consecutive win, managing to ease off Cobra by just three points.

Michael Kazunguzibwa top scored for KPA picking 20 points while Valentine Onyango managed 16 to power the dockers through.

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The final game against Comoros’ Usoni Basket was another free ride for KPA as they easily won 121-74 with Ayodi providing the backbone to the victory with 24 points, 11 rebounds three assists and an equal number of steals.

KPA is among the 12 teams which have advanced to the second round where they will be joined by four others to make an ‘Elite 16’.

They will be drawn into two groups of eight teams each; the West and East Zone.

The eight teams in each zone will further be divided into two pools with the top two in each pool advancing to the semi finals. The two which advance to the finals and the play-off winner will eventually earn a ticket to next year’s BAL season.

There will be three teams each from the East and West Zones.

Cameroonian city of Yaounde will host for Division West’s Group G while Rwanda’s main city Kigali has been named Division East’s Group H’s host city.

The West Zone matches will be played between November 26 to December 1 while the East zone will run from December 17-22.

The West zone will have hosts Force Armes Police of Yaounde and will face Abidjan Basketball Club of Cote d’Ivoire, Mali’s AS Police, AS Nigelec of Niger, GSP from Algeria and Manga from Gabon.

Meanwhile, in the East Zone, Rwanda’s Patriots will host KPA, City Oilers of Uganda, Ferroviario de Maputo from Mozambique, GNBC of Madagascar, and UNZA Pacers from Zambia.

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The top six will join teams from Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia for the regular season.

Kigali, Rwanda will host the semi-finals and final of the inaugural BAL.

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