Defending champions Kenya Ports Authority men's basketball team returned home with satisfaction after garnering maximum four points from their two Premier League first leg matches at Nairobi's Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium at the weekend.
On Sunday, KPA, who are chasing their fourth straight title, had to resist fourth quarter pressure from hosts Blades to win the highly charged showdown 62-53.
KPA had enjoyed a comfortable 31-21 lead at the breather. KPA, who had easily defeated coach Cliffe Owuor's USIU-A Tigers 74-47 on Saturday, found the going tough against Blades who were also in top winning gear. Blades had beaten World Hope 54-51 on Saturday.
KPA were headed for a clean win against Blades after they took 45-34 lead in the third quarter thanks to veterans Dickson Aran, towering forward Ariel Okal and muscleman Job Byron's good team work.
Hell started breaking loose for the dock men when the hosts put much pressure on them through forwards Fidel Okoth and Cliff Allela, who effectively used their good height to score key baskets on superb rebounds.
Blades cut down the margin to four points with one minute, 23 seconds to go causing panic to the dock men's bench headed by head coach Sammy Kiki, and newly appointed assistant Samuel Ocholla, who has retired from active playing.
The two battling teams effectively used their critical time outs in the neck-to-neck fourth quarter. Experienced Okal stole the show with two dunks, which were cheered by the big crowd as KPA re-gained confidence with a six points lead 58-52 inside the last 36 seconds left.
Blades coach Tonny Ochieng had to confront match crew chief June Oluoch in the court in the dying seconds with accusations of biased officiating.
KPA's win was a result of tireless Ariel Okal, who scored game-high 15 points with Dickson Aran hitting 11 and Job Byron 10.
Blades had only Cliffe Allela, who was later ejected replying in double figures of 10 points.
"We played well despite the fact that we only trained together as a team for two days in Nairobi were we have a bulk of my players except two in Mombasa.
We made many turnovers in the fourth quarter which we shall correct," coach Kiki said.
Blades coach Tonny Ochieng said: "We lost because of the referees who are not objective and the bad fixtures which gave us to play two tough matches in a weekend."
In the women's Premier League matches, Selina Okumu scored 12 points and Beckie Nkatha added 10 as former champions KPA recovered to defeat hosts Eagle Wings 54-43.
The dock women, who had lost 52-55 to Storms on Saturday, had little pressure from hosts Eagle Wings, whom they overpowered from start to lead 26-15 at half-time.
After going down 8-17 in the third quarter, veteran Eveline Kedogo and Lucy Machuma of Eagle Wings fired three pointers which scared KPA as the hosts raced to a 20-11 run at the end of the fourth quarter. Machuma contributed 11 points for the losers.
Tangit Sparks under coach Justus Akhwesa also rediscovered their winning formula to demolish USIU-A Flames 71-33 after leading 33-13 at half-time.
After having lost 57-64 to Kenyatta University Oryx on Saturday, coach Akhwesa returned with a working strategy which saw Tangit dictate terms in all the four quarters with Celia Okumu emerging top scorer with 18 points to her credit and Andeline Munguti 10.
In another women's match, newly promoted Africa Nazarene University suffered a 48-58 defeat at the hands of seasonal Zetech University.