12 October 2013

KENYA : Key changes lined up for 2014 ZUBL season

  • USIU in a past match against Strathmore.(Photo:SNA File)
  • The 2014 Zuku University Basketball League will embrace several changes as organizers seek to make it more competitive.
    Among the new things in the pipeline include bringing on board Uganda varsities as well as more local universities.
    So far, 26 local universities have placed their request to be included in the 2014 season to join 58 that took part this year.
    Furthermore, there will be an increase in the number of live matches. Speaking Friday morning at a media conference convened to take stock of the 2013 season that concludes this weekend, Zuku Sports head Gary Rathbone said their partnership with the Kenya University Sports Association, KUSA, has bore fruit going by the interest generated.
    Rathbone reiterated that the success achieved so far will be taken a notch higher next season when their broadcast plans will have gained full momentum.
    “We are proud to be part of the growth of local basketball, among other sports, as we engage the youths in showcasing their talent in this expanding sporting world.”
    League season could be shifted 
    The league organizers are also contemplating changing the season calendar for logistical reasons. Currently, it runs from May to October but will be shifted to the September-April window under the proposed plan.
    KUSA Vice Chairman Boniface Solano said of the planned change; “most of the universities are on a long holiday between May and September which brings about inconveniences.
    Going for the new calendar will ensure all teams are available since they are on session during that period.”
    Another conference will be added to the current four after Rift Valley was cut off from Western Conference. Solano says this was necessitated by the fact that it was the largest of the four going by number of universities taking part.
    “We want to make it logistically possible for all teams to travel, play and return home without exhaustion. We have taken into consideration that most universities have opened up branches countrywide under these changes.”
    Miles & Associates International has been managing the league since Zuku took over sponsorship. Managing Director Michael Finley was optimistic that the changes will bring some edge to the league.
    “The quality of the league has gone high and this can be seen from players improvement to the excitement by fans. We emphasized more on developing the game and turning this league professional through initiatives like coaching clinics.”
    A total of 216 games were played in the regular season across the four conferences while 24 matches will be played at the national finals this weekend.
    Winning teams will pocket Ksh.150, 000, first runners-up 75, 000 and second runners-up will take home 50, 000.
    Only four matches will be broadcast live on Zuku Sports; two on Friday and two on Saturday. The revised schedule has quarterfinals, semifinals and classification matches taking place on Friday at USIU Courts and Kasarani.
    The third to eighth place playoffs and main finals will be held on Saturday at Kasarani gymnasium.
    “We are proud to be the first television station to have televised Kenyan basketball on HD. It proves our commitment to fans and lovers of the game,” said Rathbone.

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