26 February 2008

KENYA : KCB Set Year's Goal

by Dann O'were

National champions KCB Lions' focus this year is the regional club title and a ticket to the Africa Club championships, head coach Francis Ngunjiri has said.

The bankers long-serving tactician told SportFest he was optimistic Lions will roar to greater heights and make a mark in the continental tournament to be played later in the year at a venue yet to be determined.

"I am positive Lions will win the regional crown and represent Zone Five in the Africa Club championships." said Ngunjiri, adding: "Last year's defeat to host club APR of Rwanda in the final was hard to swallow.

Ngunjiri said losing that finals in Kigali was one of his most painful memories that he wants reverse. Lions succumbed 71-80 in an epic duel that saw five key players fouled out in the dying minutes.

"Everybody knew why we lost that final to the home team. We will set the record straight and show we are the best team in the region," said Ngunjiri, who wants this year's tournament be held in Bujumbura, Burundi, as earlier planned.

He said he plans to beef up his playing unit by three players whom he has identified before the training starts early next month.

" I have identified three players who will join my team for the new season when training starts in a few days' time," he said and refused to disclose their names until the deal is sealed.

Lions won their second league title in 20 years when they shut our rivals Co-operative Bank of Kenya 2-0 in the play offs finals.

Meanwhile, KCB Lions and national team forward, Yoni Wanambiro, has been released to play in a special tournament in Dar es salaam ,Tanzania.

Agina Wesonga, the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) chairman yesterday told SportFest that Wanambiro has been released to play for Oilers club for the 10-day Super Cup that starts this weekend in Dar and ends on March 2.

He said Wanambiro had followed procedures while seeking release from his club and has been given the all clear for the tournament. His participation, he noted, will make him an even better player.

Wanambiro, whose first assignment for the national team was in last year's Zone Five All Africa Games qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda, has emerged as one of the finest players in the region. Last year, he guided Lions to their first league title since 2001.

"Yoni has followed the right channels and paid the clearance fee to play in this tournament. As KBF, we have given him our blessings and wish him well," said Wesonga, adding that tournament will make him a better player.

The player is expected back after the the tournament to join his club's preparations.

The national champions are scheduled to start their preparations for the season at their Ruaraka Den.

The national Premier league is slated for April. But the exact dates will be released after the new KBF office is in place. The federation is expected to go to the polls next month to elect new office bearers.

Meanwhile, Nairobi Basketball Association (NBA) will hold a coaches' clinic at Langata High School starting Saturday, chairman Ronny Owino has announced.

Owino said the clinic will be conducted by Kenyatta University and national team head coach Gitau Waringo. He asked aspiring coaches at schools and clubs to attend.

"This will be an important clinic for the schools especially now that their programmes has started.

They will have a lot to gain. Besides schools, we want clubs in Nairobi to also attend" he said.

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