Thunder will be seeking to close in on the top place in the men's Premier League when they entertain relegation-threatened USIU-A Tigers at Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium on Saturday at 4pm.
Coach Sadat Gaya’s Thunder will also battle for two key points to keep their hopes of finishing top in the regular season alive. Thunder are second on the 12-team table with 36 points from 17 wins and two loses.
Ulinzi Warriors, who last won the league crown five years ago, snatched the league leadership with 39 points after winning their two matches last weekend.
Ulinzi Warriors beat Equity Bank 88-78 in over time and went on to defeat World Hope 56-51.
Thunder had sufficient time to train after they demolished Blades 56-48 a fortnight ago and their dangerous shooting guard Griffins Ligare, Emmanuel Soja, forwards Kevin Chogo and Nathan Terry are rearing to go.
USIU-A Tigers lost two matches in weekend and will still face a tall order to deny basket hungry Thunder victory.
"We just need to win all the remaining matches against champions KPA and Ulinzi Warriors to finish on top in the regular season," Gaya told Nation Sport.
FOUR PLAYERS OUT
The tactician said they will miss the services of four players on injury but they will have recovered before the play-offs. Ulinzi have two two matches at hand against Umoja and Thunder.
USIU-A Tigers lost 57-42 to Blades before Equity Bank also defeated them 35-76 last weekend. The poor show left Tigers bottom of the pile with 19 points. They have won only two matches and lost 14 with seven fixtures to go.
"We are a young team but still optimistic of performing better in remaining matches to avoid relegation. We are still left with many matches to end the second leg as compared to other teams that are also fighting relegation," Tigers coach Cliffe Owuor said.
On Sunday at the same venue, Tigers will face Umoja in another tricky showdown from 4pm. Coach George Namake’s World Hope, who are also fighting relegation, will host Kisumu-based Lakeside in a return leg match. World Hope put up a spirited fight before losing 56-51 to Ulinzi last weekend. Should forwards Victor Okoth, Conrad Wafula and Evans Orenge keep their top form, World Hope will no doubt carry the day.
Lakeside are third from bottom with 20 points from four wins and 12 loses. The bottom two teams will be demoted to the Division One at the end of season.
In Saturday’s women’s Premier League matches, former 12-time champions Kenya Ports Authority will continue tackle hosts Western Delight at Kakamega Police Canteen from 10am. The dock women’s head coach Mike Opel started off well after taking over from long-serving Anthony Ojukwu. He has an experienced squad led by international Hilda Indasi, Natalie Akinyi and Vilma Achieng capable to easily silence their hosts.
KPA are fifth on the standings with 20 points after having won 14 matches and lost two. After having shocked Strathmore University 49-44 last weekend, coach Juma Kent’s Dynamites will again start as favourites to win against shaky former two-time champions USIU-A Flames. Dynamites will need two points to keep a live their hopes of featuring in the play-offs.
"We restricted Strathmore guards and my girls are motivated to continue shining," said Juma.
USIU-A lost 51-45 to Zetech University last weekend and face the unfancied prospect of going down.
At Nyayo: Women’s Division One: Riara University v KPA Youth (8.30am), JKUAT v KCA-U (10am).
Men’s Division One: Little Prince v Renegades (11.30am).
Women’s Premier League: Tangit Sparks v USIU-A Flames (1pm).
Men’s Premier League: World Hope v Lakeside (2.30pm), USIU-A Tigers v Thunder (4pm).
In Kakamega: Men’s Division Two: Nebulas v NIBS (9am), Women’s Premier League: Western Delight v ANU (10.30am)
At USIU-A's Outdoor courts: Men’s Division Two: Little Prince v Renegades (10am), JKUAT v Coastal Kings (11.30am), KCITI v Baobab Blazers (1pm), 4 Christ v Upper Hill School (2.30pm).
In Kakamega: Women’s Premier League: KPA v Western Delight (10am)
At Nyayo: Women’s Division One: JKUAT v Baobab (8.30am), JKUAT v KPA Youth (10am), KAA v Zetech University (11.30am).
Men’s Division One: ANU v KDF Morans (1pm)
Women’s Premier League: Dynamites v USIU-A Flames (2.30pm)
Men’s Premier League: Umoja v USIU-A Tigers (4pm)