Ulinzi Warriors have raised the bar high if their 92-65 walloping of defending champions Kenya Ports Authority in Kenya Basketball Federation men’s Premier League is anything to go by.
In that memorable win on Sunday night, the battle-hardened soldiers ran riot to not only register the highest score in the league so far, but also claimed bragging rights against the dockers.
And the writing was on the wall for the dockers as early as the first quarter when Ulinzi Warriors, who have greatly improved with the acquisition of Joseph Khaemba, Victor Bosire, James Mwangi and Alvin Nyangweso, raced to a 27-14 first quarter lead and 53-34 scoreline at the break, putting the game beyond the reach of the dockers who fielded, among others, Aireal Okal who was playing his first local match for the team after returning from a professional stint in Doha.
Mwangi, arguably the best player on the court on the night, started the points rush with a well-executed three-point shot from the jump ball, but Valentine Nyakinda quickly responded for KPA with a perimeter shot from the edge of the box.
Khaemba and Washika then combined for six quick points as Ulinzi widened the gap, with Mwangi nailing another three-pointer as the soldiers took an early command, leading 13-04.
KPA back-pedalled, with Okal, Nyakinda and Victor Odendo, who resorted to the playmaker position, working overtime.
In the third quarter, Ulinzi Warriors, who look set to not only wrestle the league trophy from KPA but to also make an impression at the Fiba Zone Five Championships in Rwanda in September, engaged a higher gear, outscoring KPA 26-13 but stepped off the gas pedal in the fourth which KPA won 18-13.
Mwangi top-scored for Ulinzi with 25 points in the game which saw John Washika (14), Joseph Khaemba (12), Victor Bosire (15) and Eric Mutoro (17) also contributed points in the big win for their team.
KPA’s Okal contributed 12 points in the match, while Kennedy Wachira and Paul Ekiru contributed 11 and 10 points respectively.
Kenya Ports Authority women, who lost the league and Zone Five titles to Equity Bank last year, is the only team yet to play a single league match so far due to financial constraints.
KBF Fixtures Secretary Joseph Amoko said other league teams were also having difficulties travelling to Mombasa for matches due to financial constraints.
“I have been arranging fixtures for teams to come to Mombasa but they have all been requesting for cancellation due to lack of funds. University of Nairobi and Zetech University teams will travel to Mombasa on May 4 and 5 for league matches,” he said.