Equity Bank made a flying start to their Kenya Basketball Federation women's Premier League started their title defence with a 82-47 rout of Tangit Sparks in game One of their play-offs at Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium on Saturday.
Equity Bank, who had defeated Sparks twice in the regular season, as expected used the same trick in book to go up 1-0 on the best-of-three series.
"We need time to rest and that is why we are set for a clean 2-0 sweep in Game Two on Sunday so that we can rest next weekend. My players are tired and some key ones have incurred injuries because of congested fixtures," Equity Bank head coach David Maina said.
"We had disastrous training sessions which forced us to have only nine players. It was difficult to perform well when we had to field players who did not train at all," Sparks coach Justus Akhwesa explained.
Top seeded Equity justified their supremacy when power forward Linda Alando hit nine points with captain Esther Butali and towering Belinda Okoth also making good use of their height.
Sparks, who narrowly qualified after finishing eighth, showed aggressiveness with captain Celia Okumu and Anne Mwaniki scaring off the bankers with hard hitting replying three-pointers.
The hotly contested first quarter saw Equity Bank escape with a narrow 20-18 lead. Coach Maina was quick to go back to the drawing board and returned back with a working playing system.
Experienced shooting guard Samba Mjomba executed three 3-pointers while little known guard Happy Makosewe also made her presence felt by the big crowd. The duo led Equity Bank to outscore Sparks 31-3 at end of the second quarter.
Equity had a huge 51-21 half-time lead and it became a tall order for Sparks to recover. Hard-fighting Getrude Sagala and Celia Okumu led Sparks to a 24-15 run at the end of fourth quarter after they trailed again 17-4 in third quarter. It was too late turn the scores in their favour.
Rebounding forward Belinda Okoth scored 18 points and Linda Alando hit 12 for Equity Bank, who are seeking to retain the title for the second year in a row. Okumu replied with 17 points and team-mate Mitchelle Otinda added 15 for Sparks, who must win Game 2 on Sunday if they are to stay alive.
In the men's Premier League play-off Game Two, Emyba rallied from behind to lock the series 1-1 after they beat Equity Bank 87-83 on Friday night.
Equity Bank had gone 1-0 up after winning Game One 66-64 last weekend. With the best-of- series now on the wire, the decisive do-or- die Game Three was scheduled for Saturday night.
Strathmore University became the first team to qualify for the men's Division One league play-offs semi-final when they knocked out KCA-U 2-0. Strathmore defeated KCA-U 40-34 in Game Two on Saturday.
In the men's Division Two, Riara University qualified for the semi-final on a 2-0 basis after they won Game Two 70-58 against rivals Neosasa. Neosasa had lost Game One 44-67 and needed victory to tie the series 1-1.
Women's Premier League: Equity Bank 82 47 Tangit Sparks.
Men's Premier League: Emyba 87 Equity Bank 83
Men's Division One: Strathmore University 40 Strathmore University 40 34 KCA-U
Men's Division Two: Kisii University 51 49 Riara University