IN KAMPALA, UGANDA
Kenya women's basketball team put up a spirited fight, but still went down 86-82 to Egypt in their first match of the Fiba Zone Five African Games qualifiers here at the Lugogo Indoor courts on Wednesday.
Felmas Adhiambo Koranga and Mercy Wanyama combined for 43 points, but this was not enough to help Kenya past the Pharaohs, whose ball movement and execution at the final third, was top notch.
US-based Koranga, a last minute inclusion in the Kenya team, managed 22 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks, while Spain-based Wanyama chipped in with 21 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks that almost saw Kenya carry the day against the Egyptians, who exploded in the last two minutes to regain the lead from the Kenyans, who were then leading 78-75.
After a 20-17 first quarter lead, Metal Ashraf Abdelgawad, who top scored for Egypt with 18 points and Soraya Degheidy who managed 17 points, ran rings round the unsuspecting Kenya defence to steal the show.
Reen Awad had put Kenya into early trouble with 12 quick points inside the first quarter, three of them from beyond the arc, but Vilma Achieng, who quickly ran into foul trouble, rallied Kenya back with eight points and Koranga's five as the teams exchanged lead with the Egyptians going to the break with a three points lead of 40-37.
The third quarter was evenly contested with Kenya's Melissa Akinyi and Debra Atieno giving the Egyptians difficult moments, as Indasi rediscovered her threes as Egypt led 62-60 going into the fourth quarter.
Other scorers for Kenya were Vilma Achieng and Indasi who had nine points each, while Betty Kananu had eight.
"We somehow lost concentration in our defence allowing them second shots and very easy open looks which they converted, a situation I will correct before our next game on Thursday against Rwanda," Kenya coach Ronnie Owino said after the match.
His Egyptian counterpart Ehad Elalfy was happy with the win, but disappointed with the match officials, whom he said made several questionable calls, including a technical foul on him.
"I think the referees were not in control and I hope they improve in making decisions going forward," he said.
Kenya women play Rwanda in their second match at 1pm Thursday, before Rwanda men take on Tanzania from 3pm.
Egypt women take on Uganda from 5pm, before Kenya men, who were due to play Uganda Wednesday night, square it out with Egypt from 7pm.