01 June 2015

KENYA : KU Pirates end winless run

  • Maina Loungu of Mennonites is watched keenly by the referee and his opponent Victor Odendo of Ulinzi. The soldiers won 108-60. (Photo by Shutterspeed)
Kenyatta University Pirates ended their three games winless run in the Kenya Basketball Federation league on Sunday by beating high-flying Nairobi City Thunder 70-69 at the Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium.
Pirates had been relegated to division one at the close of last season. However, they were re-admitted to the top-tier league after the new season had begun. They lost their first three games to Co-operative Bank, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Zetech University.
The match on Sunday could be likened to the biblical pairing of David and Goliath. But, in the end, Pirates prevailed over Thunder who had already registered shock wins over Co-operative Bank and KPA in the eastern conference.
It appeared Thunder underestimated their opponents. Their body language before the match said as much.  Griffin Ligare, their star player made his way to the gymnasium midwayin the second quarter after his colleagues had won first quarter 18-12.
The students fought back in the second quarter to win 19-9 and take a 31-27 halftime lead. A 24-22 win for Pirates in third quarter meant they went to the final quarter with a six points lead.
The fourth quarter was highly competitive with the margin playing around five points, Pirates leading all the time. With 38 seconds of play remaining and Pirates enjoying a 68-65 lead, Ligare scored a 3-point jumper to tie the game 68-all and bring Thunder back into contention.
Ligare then turned from hero to villain when he fouled Pirates' captain Renson Moibi with 25 seconds. Moibi stepped up to the free-throw line for two shots but made one to give Pirates a 69-68 lead.
Deep trouble
Play resumed and Thunder were in deep trouble again after Sadat Gaya fouled Moibi with only five seconds to play. He scored one shot to make it a 2-point game at 70-68. With one second to play, the tide turned against Pirates as Jackton Agunda fouled Ligare.
When he stepped to the line, Ligare needed to sink the two shots and push the game to overtime but missed both. From the ensuing contest after the second missed shot, Pirates woes deepened after Lendil Lwane fouled Charles Kituyi resulting in two free shots and another opportunity for Thunder to force overtime play.
However, Pirates began celebrating early as Kituyi missed the first shot but made the second to settle the game.
An elated Pirates head coach Gitau Waringo was satisfied with the outcome. “They underrated us today and the worst thing to do in basketball is undermine a team that is coming from a loss. They will fight to prove a point and that is what we did,” he told sportsnewsarena.com.
“I told my boys, this is the game to prove their worth in the league and they heeded that. This is a turning point for us and we don't care about the games we have lost or our next opponent,” the coach added.
Lwane top scored for Pirates with 23 points, nine coming off the 3-point line while Moibi added 16. For Thunder, Kituyi scored 16, Philip Dinga had 15, Lameck Mamwini added 13 with three 3-pointers while Ligare scored 12. Both teams scored 15 points from the arc while Pirates made 13 free shots and Thunder had 8.
On Saturday, Pirates had lost 52-68 to Zetech University at the same venue.
Ulinzi century
Ulinzi Warriors scored a century by beating Mennonites 108-60. William Ochieng and Ronald Kipruto top scored for Ulinzi with 15 points each. Ochieng grabbed two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot while Kipruto grabbed one rebound.
Eric Makokha and Felix Odhiambo scored 13 points each for Mennonites with Odhiambo grabbing four rebounds and one blocked shot. Makokha had three rebounds and one assist. Ulinzi won first two quarters 33-13 and 32-16 while Mennonite had the third 24-15.
The soldiers wrapped up the game with a 28-7 win in fourth quarter. From the 3-point line, Ulinzi scored 39 points against 21 for Mennonites. The soldiers attempted 23 times from the free-throw line scoring 11 while Mennonites made 13 free shots from 30 attempts.
In another game, Blades from Strathmore University scored 65-44 against Umoja. Joseph Ongoro had 14 points for Blades while Gilbert Obiero top scored for Umoja with 12. Blades won all quarters 17-5, 19-15, 13-11 and 16-13.
In Nakuru, United States International University- Africa (USIU-A) beat hosts Nakuru Club 51-49.
Weekend Results
Saturday: Ulinzi Warriors 108 Mennonites 60, Don Bosco 64 Lakeside 61, ANU 65 Eldonets 56, EYMBA 50 Little Prince 40, KU Pirates 52 Zetech University 68, Nakuru Club 49 USIU-A 51; Sunday: Umoja 44 Blades 65, Thunder 69 KU Pirates 70, Upper Hill 56 JKUAT 46, ANU 53 Lakeside 54, Blazers 51 Eldonets 62.

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