16 December 2008

KENYA : Roaring Lions get their prey, Eagles fly high


Kenya Commercial Bank Lions and Kenya Ports Authority successfully defended their men and women’s basketball league titles as the 2008 season ended in Nairobi over the weekend.

KPA went down in history as the only team to have won the league championship a record of nine times. The dockwomen, who first lifted the crown in 1992, beat Eagle Wings 2-0 in the best-of-three series women’s play-offs final.
They have dominated the league and gotten the bigger share in representing Kenya in the Africa club championship. The disbanded Lionesses had won the cup five times with Telkom recording three wins.
KCB Lions, on the other hand joined the disbanded Posta, Co-op Bank and Ulinzi Warriors as the only four clubs to have won the cup more than two times in a row.

Different game plan

Lions, who waited for too long until 2001 to win their first title, resisted pressure coming from a game down to rock Co-op Bank 2-1.
Both teams had tied the series 1-1 forcing the decisive Game Three at Nyayo Stadium on Sunday to separate them.
After having lost 2-0 to KCB Lions in last year’s final, Co-op Bank, under coach Carey Oketch, had approached the 2008 final with a different game plan.
Co-op Bank, who had ended Lions’ regular season unbeaten record by beating them 77-72, won play-offs opener 66-64.
Co-op Bank’s dream of recapturing the league title, which they last won in 1998, started receiving frustrations when they lost Game Two 76-73 to the already wounded Lions.
Then came the decisive Game Three and Lions fought from behind again 16-12 in the first quarter to carry the day 86-66 to retain the title.

Outstanding contribution

The play-offs matches were well officiated as Kenya Basketball Federation deployed three referees as required by the international Basketball Federation (FIBA) standards.
Though this year’s men’s final had something to cheer about due to the tight competition, the women’s match was a big disappointment to the fans.
The MVP for the season, Victor Odendo of Lions, kept the fans up cheering as he did his three-point shooting thing.
He beat Co-op Bank’s defence hands down sneaking to the edge of the court to fire five three-pointer in a row in the third quarter.
Odendo’s outstanding contribution saw Lions clobber Co-op Bank 32-11 in the third quarter, which decided the destiny of the match.
Co-op Bank could not recover from the shock and their key men, Wycliffe Ochieng and Richard Osano, also remained cold. KPA and Eagle Wings seem not to have learned anything from the high profile women’s club championship which Kenya hosted for the first time in Nairobi last month.

In Game Two, KPA registered a low scoring 45-44 win against Wings to keep the cup. Their Game Two in Mombasa was not impressive either as KPA had rocked Wings 55-51.

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