Ulinzi Warriors will continue with their push to finish top in the regular season of the men’s Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League with two crucial matches at Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium this weekend.
On Saturday, coach William Balozi’s charges - second on the standings with 35 points - will confront Equity Bank starting at 4pm before taking on relegation-threatened World Hope a day later.
The soldiers easily punished USIU-A Tigers 92-44 last weekend and their aggressive forwards James Mwangi, William Ochieng, John Washika, Alvin Nyangweso, shooting guards Eric Mutoro and Victor Bosire will be out to garner four points.
"We have polished on our weak areas in rebounding and boxing out ready to harvest four points. Equity Bank is a strong side which cannot be underrated although we had beaten them by over 10-points in first leg," Balozi said.
Ulinzi’s rivals for the first seed, Thunder, heading the competition with 36 points from 17 wins and two loses. Ulinzi have won 17 and lost only one match.
Equity Bank, on the other hand, remained in contention to finish among top four teams to qualify for play-offs even after they lost 56-70 to defending champions Kenya Ports Authority recently. The bankers, who are placed fourth on 26 points, will hope experienced shooting guard Titus Musembi, forward Kevin Kigotho and Bush Wamukota spoil the party for Ulinzi.
OUT OF CONTENTION
World Hope are out of contention for the playoffs places after losing 58-41 to Thunder humiliated them 58-41 a fortnight ago, and will need to be at their best to stop Ulinzi on Sunday.
Coach George Namake’s World Hope are fighting to escape relegation. They are second last on the 12-team table with 19 points from two wins and 15 loses. Ulinzi rocked World Hope 63-51 in the first leg.
In Saturday’s women’s Premier League, coach Juma Kent’s University of Nairobi Dynamites will face Strathmore University Swords at 11.30am. Dynamites registered a morale boosting 50-47 win over Zetech University last weekend. "We shall fight hard to harvest two points to be guaranteed of finishing in top eight positions to qualify for the play-offs," Kent said.
Dynamites, who lost 46-59 to Swords in first leg, lie eighth on the standings with 25 points. They have so far won nine matches and lost seven.
Strathmore defeated Tangit Sparks 60-48 in their last outing and coach Ronnie Owino’s squad will start as favourites to win. Strathmore will heavily rely on forward Edna Kola, Eunice Silon and Emmaculate Awuor to punish their fellow students. Tangit Sparks, who are seventh position on 26 points, will need to beat newcomers Africa Nazarene University on Sunday to enhance their play-offs hopes.
On Sunday in Eldoret, hosts Eldonets will take on rivals Nairobi-based Emyba at Uasin Gishu Outdoor Courts from 10.30am. Emyba, who lost 3-0 to Eldonets in the best-of-five series men’s Division One league play-offs final last year, avenged the defeat winning the first leg encounter 73-71. Both teams are newcomers in the Premier League.
In Mombasa, coach Mike Opel’s Kenya Ports Authority women’s team will host Eagle Wings at KPA Makande Gymnasium on Saturday at 4pm. On Sunday, the dock women will wind up their two match programme against Kenyatta University Oryx from 12pm.
At Nyayo: Women’s Division One League: Footprints v JKUAT (8.30am), Men’s Division One: KDF Morans v Pirates (10am). Women’s Premier League: Dynamites v Strathmore University (11.30am). Women’s Premier League: USIU-A Flames v Zetech University (2.30pm). Men’s Premier League: USIU-A Tigers v Blades (4pm).
At USIU-A: Ruaraka Neosasa v Egerton University (8.30am), KCITI v Renegades (10am), KCA-U v Egerton University (11.30am), MKU Thika v Little Prince (1pm).
At Kenyatta Sports Ground-Kisumu: Men’s Premier League: Lakeside v Eymba (8am). Women’s Premier League: Lady Bucks v Riara University (10am).
At KPA Makande Gymnasium: Baobab v Upper Hill School (12pm), Coastal Kings v NIBS (2pm), KPA v Eagle Wings (4pm).
At Kisii: Kisii University v Eldonets (9am).
At Nyayo: JKUAT v Renegades (8.30am). Women’s Premier League: Tangit Sparks v ANU (10am), USIU-A Flames v Equity Bank (1pm). Men’s Premier League: Ulinzi Warriors v World Hope (4pm).
Eldoret: Eldonets v Riara University (9am). Men’s Premier League: Eldonets v Emyba (10.30am).
Mombasa: Men’s Division One: Baobab v NIBS (9am), Coastal Kings v Upper Hill School (10.30am). Women’s Premier League: KPA v Kenyatta University Oryx (12pm)