13 January 2011
KENYA : Year of mixed fortunes
By ERICK OCHIENG’
The 2010 season has been a year of mixed results for local basketball fraternity.
Just like in football, most teams excelled in local and regional circles but national teams exhibited dismal performances at the international arena.
The year commenced on a rather a low note with wrangles between Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) officials and team managers and coaches over amendment of the KBF constitution.
The standoff saw the national league delayed upto April after the warring factions agreed to amend some clauses in the KBF constitution.
Despite the wrangles, Kenya went a head to win the Fiba Africa Zone V championships in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Eagle Wings and Co-operative Bank won the women and men’s category at the regional event with unbeaten records.
But trouble struck later for Eagle Wings that saw the team fail to represent the zone in Africa Clubs Championships in Tunisia, last moth. Self-supporting Eagle Wings lacked funds to attend the high profile continental event.
But the club had prepared well for the event, going to the extent of calling US-based duo of Silalei Shanice and Rose Ouma.
"We were confident of finishing in the medal bracket," Eagle Wings’ coach Smatts Olumbo said.
Another shame struck KBF when the national Under-18 women’s side was disqualified at an African Youth event in Cairo, Egypt.
This was after one of the players, Purity Auma Odhiambo, was found guilty of age-cheating.
Auma was handed a one-year ban, while Kenya, despite topping the group stages after even beating champions Senegal 55-51, was stripped all points.
A few weeks later, the country withdrew from participating in the Africa Under-18 boys’ basketball championship citing lack of funds.
Despite all these, women’s team, Predators, won the All Stars Masters Basketball championship in Durban, South Africa, in October.
Kenya also stamped their authority in the regional scene when three representatives were voted into the Fiba Africa Zone V committee. Morris Aluanga was voted the Zone President, Vitalis Gode as Secretary General and Ronny Owino as a committee member.
New initiatives arose locally, like the launch of the All Star Basketball Competition that brought together finest players in the league where winners took home Sh100,000 on December 18.
Sprite Slam basketball continued to be a cherished initiative locally where the youths, especially in secondary schools, got a chance to display their skills.
The three successful winners for the talent search a cross the nation went for a fully paid trip for a basketball boot camp in the home of National Basketball Association in the US.
Ulinzi men won the Division One league as Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) women and Co-operative Bank (men) were crowned Premier League champions.
Apart from Eagle Wings not being assisted to represent the country in Tunisia, the saddest thing to happen for the game locally was former champions KCB being disqualified in the finals due to chaos.
Also it was sad for women’s team Easter Queens to go down the drains due to lack of sponsorship this year.