Will it be two time lucky for Ulinzi Warriors basketball team when they take on Kenya Ports Authority men in Mombasa on Saturday in the Game Three of the Kenya basketball federation men’s premier league playoffs finals?
That is the question on the lips of most basketball fans as the two teams prepare to lock horns from 4pm in a match that could decide this year’s league winner.
KPA men take a 2-0 lead into the game after winning Games One and Two 77-74 and 71-55 last weekend in Nairobi.
They now need a win to wrap up the series. But they are well aware that their opponents staged a stunning comeback in the semi-finals against Thunder to make the playoffs final.
Thunder had a 2-0 series lead over Ulinzi Warriors but they had a meltdown to lose the last three straight games and watch their finals hopes implode.
Whether the soldiers will repeat the same performance against KPA, whom they beat in Mombasa in the second leg match in Mombasa last month remains to be seen.
Neutral fans would relish this occurrence as it would necessitate Game Four and even potentially Game Five if Ulinzi could master two wins at KPA’s Makande fortress.
“We are soldiers and will fight to the bitter end. It’s never over until it is over so let KPA come for the match well prepared,” said Ulinzi coach William Balozi, whose team surrendered a 22-point lead at the break in Game One to lose 77-74 in Nairobi last Saturday.
KPA men swept aside Strathmore Blades 3-1 in the semi-finals in Mombasa. They had beaten the same team by a similar margin in last year’s playoffs finals.
Ulinzi Warriors have beaten KPA several times in Mombasa, and the possibility of them winning the three remaining games to reclaim the title they last won in 2015 cannot be ruled out.
The dockers have been training at their Makande backyard under the watchful eye of coach Sammy Kiki who believes that the title is theirs to lose.
“I know that they will come at us very strong in an effort to avoid a sweep but we have talked as a team and agreed not to give them any chance because we know what they can do if allowed a comeback,” Kiki said after Friday’s training session.
In other matches of the day, KPA women who are leading 2-0 (80-56 and 63-47) against Storms in the semi-finals host their opponents in Game Three at the same venue from 2pm.
Zone 5 champions Equity Bank, who also lead Strathmore Swords 2-0 (65-39 and 61-50) in the other semi-final, host their opponents at the Nyayo National Gymnasium in Nairobi from 4pm.
In division one matches, already promoted University of Nairobi dynamites and African Nazarene University clash in Game Three of the finals with UoN leading the series 2-0.
A similar situation is playing out in the men’s finals where already promoted Eldonets and Emyba clash in the men’s finals with Eldonets leading 2-0.
Makande Gymnasium, Mombasa
Storms v KPA women – 2pm
Ulinzi Warriors v KPA men – 4pm
Nyayo National Gymnasium
Division one women’s 3rd place - Strathmore v Kisumu Lady Bucks - 9am
Division One men’s 3rd Place - Blazers v Kenya Airports Authority - 10:30am
Division one women’s finals – ANU v UoN - 12pm
Division one men’s finals - Eldonets v Emyba - 2pm
Women’s Premier League semis - Strathmore v Equity bank - 4pm