14 September 2014

KENYA : Co-op Bank Queens keen to break the 'semifinalists' jinx

  • Grace Wanjiku in a past game for Co-operative Bank.(Photo:SNA File)
Co-operative Bank ladies basketball team is hoping to get past the semifinals of the Kenya Basketball Federation league playoffs this season, a stage they haven't gone past in the last three seasons.
The bankers lost their seventh game of the season on Saturday to Sprite Storms 36-45. Out of eleven games in the first leg, they lost to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Eagle Wings, Strathmore University and United States International University- Africa (USIU-A).
In the second leg, they have started on the wrong footing losing three out of five played including KPA and Eagle Wings double. Despite the visibly odd facts against his team, head coach Robert Mugabe says they will pick it up from the playoffs since their qualification is assured.
“I am confident we will finish in the top three. For now, no team has won the league so we all have equal chances,” he told sportsnewsarena.com.
“My main aim is to motivate the players and ensure they play as a team then we can build up on that.”
Mugabe has severally faced criticism from many people over player fielding but he says it is only that they don't understand his philosophy.
“I always tell my players to play at their best and encourage internal discipline. If you don't train, you don't play no matter how good you are and that is my principle whether we win or lose,” he said.
“I wish some of those people who complain come to our training because its me and the players only. They would understand our play better."
The bankers have already lost Taudencia Peter and Linet Juma who have left for collegiate basketball in USA.However, Melissa Akinyi joined the team from Strathmore University towards the end of first leg.
She links up with former teammate Grace Wanjiku who left the varsity side at the start of the season and Mugabe says the impact of new signings has been good.
“They brought in depth and experience that a team of our caliber needs to challenge for the title.” All their losses have been inflicted by the top teams that they are likely to play in the playoffs in case they make it. That does not concern Mugabe who insists that “playoffs is a different ball game from the regular season".
He was at pains to see his side lose to Storms after holding them off to a one point deficit at halftime. Storms won the first quarter 10-6 but Co-op Bank took home the second 15-12.
They lost the game in the third quarter after losing 5-11 and went on to forfeit the fourth 10-12. Mercy Wanyama scored 12 points for Storms and grabbed 10 rebounds with Linet Mukiri adding 11. Grace Wanjiku scored highest for Co-op Bank with 8 points and Akinyi added 7.
Blades slise KU 
Ulinzi Blades had the better of Kenyatta University Oryx winning their encounter 68-48. Blades won the first three quarters 19-10, 15-14 and 15-10 respectively with Oryx taking away the fourth 14-9.
Rebecca Sarange hit four three-point shots as she top scored for Blades with 24 points while Betty Kananu had a similar score for Oryx.
Statistics from the game had Oryx head coach Gitau Waringo worried. His team scored only five free-throws against Blades’ 16 and managed only a single three-point shot against Blades’ four.
“Our shooting is very poor. In this game alone, we missed close to twenty free shots and many scoring opportunities below the rim which could have changed the scoreline.”
He attributes that to the long recess the players took but promised a change by the next two weeks as he plots for the next game.
“It is a matter of precision and we must commit a lot of our training time to perfecting that. On Sunday, we must beat Mennonite to remain relevant.”
Lions beat Pirates, Co-op silence Thunder
In men premier, KU Pirates failed to sparkle going down 60-74 against a rejuvenated Lions side.
The students scored nine points from the free-throw line against Lions’ 17 but had 7 three-point shots against Lions’ 5. Lions led 38-31 at the breather after winning the opening quarters 17-13 and 21-18.
Pirates threatened a comeback winning the third 18-14 but Lions pulled away in the fourth convincingly winning 22-11.
Victor Ochieng top scored for Lions with 15 points and Denis Opiyo had 14. Pirates’ highest scorer was Jacktone Agunda with 23 points and Benson Moibi with 21.
Defending champions Co-operative Bank beat Nairobi City Thunder 66-45 in a game they scored only one free-throw against Thunder’s four. Injured Griffin Ligare was highly missed as Thunder trailed 27-39 at the breather.
The bankers won first quarter 20-7 and Thunder the second 20-19. The third quarter went Co-op Bank’s way 10-6 same as the fourth 17-12. Tony Abondo had 13 points for the bankers and Derick Juma 18 for Thunder.
Other results had Ulinzi Warriors beat Nairobi Aviation College 72-53 while USIU-A saw off host Nakuru Club 77-66.
Saturday Results: MKU Eldonets 45 KCA-U 56, Nakuru Club 66 USIU-A 77, MKU Kakamega 54 Dankind Academy 44, Zetech College 44 Trailblazers 59, Little Prince 60 ANU 61, Parklands Baptist 30 Upper Hill 54, Co-op Bank 66 Thunder 45, KU Pirates 60 Lions 74, KU Oryx 48 Ulinzi Blades 68, Sprite Storms 45 Co-op Bank 36, Nairobi Aviation College 53 Ulinzi Warriors 72.

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