Strathmore University Blades continued their quest for a top-three finish in this season's men's Kenya Basketball Premier League with two crucial wins at the weekend.
The victories were a gift to three of their consistent scorers who graduated at the weekend.
Forward Shilton Ochieng, Michael Oketch and Samuel Mutambuki graduated on Saturday but will still turn out for the varsity team for two more years after which they can be eligible to switch to other teams, according to head coach Tonny Ochieng.
Blades defeated 66-58 Umoja on Sunday, a day after their 72-66 victory over Emyba.
Umoja had mixed luck in their two outings after having won 70-52 against World Hope on Saturday.
“Our six years university scholarship programme for players covers four academic years and two to play actively for Blades after graduation and the trio’s presence will inspire the team to perform better in this year’s championship," Ochieng told Nation Sport.
Ochieng, who led Blades to their first ever play-offs final in 2016 where they lost to Kenya Ports Authority, said they are now focused to finish in top three after garnering four points last weekend. "The team has greatly improved in scoring, rebounding and rotation and the two consecutive victories have given us the morale to go places this season."
Blades are placed fifth on the standings with 18 points after having registered six wins and six loses.
The varsity students ambition will be put to test when they play Ulinzi Warriors in their return leg match and also host last year’s men’s Division One league champions Eldonets at Nyayo Stadium Gymnasium this weekend. Blades lost 81-75 to Ulinzi Warriors while newcomers Eldonets also shocked the varsity students 96-90 in Eldoret. Blades, who are left with one match against USIU-A Tigers complete their first leg programme, have vowed to avenge the two defeats.
Storms stayed on course to qualify for the women’s Premier League play-offs after they beat newly promoted Africa Nazarene University 68-56. Forward Linet Akinyi poured a game-high 24 points for Storms, who led 39-16 at the break.
University of Nairobi’s Dynamites revived their hopes of qualifying for play-offs following their dramatic 51-48 win over Tangit Sparks, formerly Masaku Sparks. Tangit threw away a huge 10-point lead at half-time to allow Dynamites to lock the scores 41-41 with six seconds left. Hard-working Triza Akeyo fired a winning free-throw for the winners, who bounced back to the women’s Premier League after a 20-year hiatus.
Kakamega-based Western Delight returned home empty handed after losing their two matches in Nairobi.
Blades 66-58 Umoja, Storms 68-56 ANU, Terrorists 61-45 Strathmore University, Dynamites 42-41 Tangit Sparks, Riara University 39-29 JKUAT, Footprints 29-60 Eldonets, KCA-U 32-26 Egerton University, Terrorists 63-47 KDF Morans, Western Delight 22-63 Zetech University, Umoja 70-52 World Hope, Pirates 20-0 Trailblazers (walkover), Blazers 51-37 Zetech University, Blazers 64-62 Barclays Bank, ANU 68-54 KAA