Kenya Ports Authority men and women’s basketball teams will open their tough campaign to lift this year’s Premier League titles with tricky away play-offs quarter-final Game One matches at Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium on Saturday.
The men's side, who are the defending champions, will be seeking to become the fourth team to win the crown four times in a row when they meet hosts Strathmore University Blades at 5.30pm. Play-offs quarter-finals are played on the best-of-three series.
The Dockers, who won their third straight league title last year, will be looking to emulate the disbanded Co-operative Bank and Ulinzi Warriors as the only two clubs to have so far won the league crown for four consecutive years since inception 32 years ago.
Co-op Bank, under late head coach Thomas “Smarts’’ Olumbo, was the first team to enter history books for winning the championship four times in a row between 1995-98.
Ulinzi Warriors, who were beaten hands down 3-0 by KPA in last year’s one-sided best-of-five series play-offs final, set a high record as the first side to have lifted the league title for five consecutive years between 2002-2006.
Can head coach and former international Sammy Kiki steer KPA men’s team into history books? The team had a tough season which saw them finish fourth in regular season with 38 points to qualify for the play-offs.
As reigning champions, the Dockers lost six matches with Blades having defeated them 53-62 in the second leg at their Mombasa backyard.
Fresh from winning the inaugural Africa Champions Clubs qualification Basketball League in Madagascar, KPA are poised to win today’s Game One against Blades. Game Two and Game Three will be played in Mombasa next weekend.
Forwards Ariel Okall, Martin Kitonga, Victor Odendo and Dickson Aran have a duty to provide the crucial winning baskets for the team.
KPA arrived in Nairobi Friday morning and embarked on training .in readiness for the showdown.
Fifth seeded Blades, who were knocked out 3-1 by KPA in last year’s semi-final, are determined to win the title for the first time after several attempts. Coach Tonny Ochieng’s youthful players Ken Dwallo, Shilton Ochieng, Reuben Muraya and Cliff Alela are tasked to inspire victory.
Coach Ochieng said,” We have trained well with the main focus on how to stop our opponents' shooting guards, read their game and to adjust accordingly for us to win the match. Our second leg victory in Mombasa is now behind us."