Thunder shocked defending champions Kenya Ports Authority handing them their first defeat in the 2019 Kenya Basketball Federation men’s Premier League with a deserved 88-76 overtime win at the KPA Hall Makande on Saturday.
The star-studded KPA, who roped in some big names during the transfer market, controlled the first half while Thunder took charge of the overtime after the thrilling game had ended 72-72 in normal time.
Kevin Wachira, who has just returned from the US, Valentine Nyakinda, who has played professional basketball in Seychelles, Gerry Wekesa, formerly with Don Bosco of Tanzania and ex-United States International University’s Job Byron were some of the big names signings that KPA paraded.
They gave a good account of themselves but found Thunder an inspired side on this day.
At Nyayo Stadium gymnasium point guard Steffie Ngabire scored 15 points as Storms opened the women's Premier League season with a resounding 64-49 victory over Africa Nazarene University on Saturday.
Storms, who paraded only seven players, had guard Ngabire scoring nine points in the first quarter with team mates Sylvia Omollo and Maureen Andalia also making effective early contributions.
It was veteran Anjela Luchivya who sealed the fate of ANU as she nailed 13 points in the second quarter which saw Storms take a huge 33-13 half-time lead.
ANU later settled down to turn the heat on Storms, who lost 3-0 to Kenya Ports Authority in last year's play-offs, with Lynn Saliamo and Dorsila Okode sneaking in their opponents "D'' area to score critical baskets.
ANU seemed to have found new impetus in this half outscoring their more experienced opponents 16-13 and 20-18 in the third and fourth quarters respectively but it was a case of too little too late.
Storms coach Abel Nson said: “We were facing a weaker side and the seven players were enough to earn us the two needed points. We intend to have a full house of 12 players in two weeks time''.
In the men's Premier League coach Cliffe Owuor's USIU-A Tigers fought from behind to beat Umoja 65-62 in a balanced affair.
Umoja, had taken a 26-13 first quarter to stay ahead 37-30 at the breather.
Tigers secret weapon Mathew Kibet and Fredrick Onono put pressure on Umoja to outscore them 23-16 in the last quarter to be assured of maximum two points.
Hardworking Mathew Kibet contributed 23 points while teammates Lawrence Davey and Fredrick Onono each scored 13 points for the winners.
Umoja replied with 16 points through Gilbert Obiero and Nick Ogol 15.
Coach Cliffe Owuor said: “USIU-A Tigers is a young team after having recruited six new players from high School who joined the university. We had to release all the players who had graduated to start as a new team this year.”
Newly promoted Emyba garnered two points in their men's Premier League opener when they clobbered World Hope 61-49.
Emyba, who lost 3-0 to Eldonets in last year's men's Division One league play-offs final, fielded experienced new signings, guards Dan Okwiri formerly with KPA and Salim Ali, a former long serving player for the disbanded Co-op Bank.
Emyba had little to worry them from start leading 33-22 at the breather.
Zaddock Osogo scored 15 for Emyba.
Emyba outscored World Hope 10-11 in a tightly contested third quarter. World Hope hit right back in the last quarter 18-16 to maintain their lead and the match’s victory.
Kisumu Lady Bucks and JKUAT were awarded walkovers against their opponents Kisii University and Footprints respectively who failed to show up for their opening matches.