01 December 2015

KENYA : Nairobi Thunder qualify for first playoffs, face Ulinzi Warriors on Wednesday

  • Nairobi Thunder's Nelson Njau battles with Strathmore University's Reuben Muraya and Michael Oketch. Thunder qualified for playoffe. (Photo by Shutterspeed)
Nairobi City Thunder has qualified for its first ever Kenya Basketball Federation league playoffs semifinal and will play Ulinzi Warriors in game one on Wednesday at the Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium fro 8 p.m.
Semi finals will be played in a best-of-five series. Thunder knocked out Strathmore Blades with a 2-1 series win after taking away games two and three over the weekend.
On Saturday, Griffin Ligare scored 27 points to help Thunder tie the series with a 80-46 win after leading 38-26 at halftime.
They completed the job on Sunday winning 83-76 in a game that Blades gave a good account of themselves despite the loss. In first quarter, Thunder won 23-21 after taking the lead only twice at 1-0 and 23-21.
Blades led 2-1 and stretched to 11-1 after a 10-0 scoring run. The students also enjoyed the lead at 19-16 and 21-19 while both sides were tied at 16-16 and 19-19. Thunder won the second quarter 21-15 to enjoy a 44-36 halftime lead.
In this quarter, they trailed Blades for long enjoying the lead only once at 36-34 towards the end. Blades led at 24-23 and 27-24 with ties of 24-24 and 34-34. Blades turned the heat on Thunder in third quarter winning 26-14 to lead 62-58 going to the final quarter.
Joseph Ongoro led the fight for Blades with a basket and three-pointer as they tied scores at 44-44. They enjoyed the lead twice at 57-56 and 59-58 while Thunder led at 46-44, 49-46 and 58-57 with ties of 46-46 and 56-56.
In fourth quarter, Thunder made good use of the free-throw line to overturn the scores and win 25-14. They made 11 free shots, one more than they scored in the first three quarters, with Felix Odhiambo scoring five and Kevin Chogo had four.
Ongoro's three pointers
Jonathan Nechi, Michael Okech and Bill Nyagosia were all fouled out in fourth quarter further complicating Blades’ gameplan. Ligare top scored for Thunder with 29 points while Ongoro hit five three-pointers to score 22 points for Blades.

Ulinzi Warriors also made it to the last four after eliminating Equity Bank 2-1. The soldiers won game three 69-54 on Sunday after dominating the bankers all through. Equity led only once at 2-0 and when Ulinzi took the lead at 5-4, they never looked back and won with quarterly scores of 16-11, 18-12, 20-19 and 15-12 respectively.
Eric Mutoro scored 12 points for Ulinzi, Ancette Wafula had 11 and Byron Mabonga added 10. Fred Lugasi top scored for Equity with 15 points, Ian Wachie added 13 and Brian Obimbo notched 11 points.
In the other semi-finals pairings, United States International University - Africa (USIU-A) will meet defending champions Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
Equity Bank Hawks was the last team to qualify in women's Premier League after beating Ulinzi Blades in 2-1 series score.
Ulinzi needed a 54-52 overtime win on Saturday to tie the series and force game three. The game tied 45-45 in regulation time with the soldiers winning 9-7 in added time.
On Sunday, Equity won game three 59-49 and will play defending champions USIU-A in last four. Equity won first quarter 10-6 after taking the lead thrice at 2-0, 4-2 and 6-4. There were two ties of 2-2 and 4-4.
Tight second quarter
The second quarter was a tight affair as Ulinzi won 14-13 to trail by three points at the breather. The soldiers enjoyed the lead at 11-10, 17-16, 19-17 and 20-19 with Equity leading 12-11 and 21-20. The teams tied 16-16, 17-17 and 19-19.
The turning point was in the third quarter for Equity with Linda Mfuchi the key destroyer-in-chief. She scored 15 points as Equity won 20-14 to give the bankers a 9-point cushion of 43-34. Equity had a slim 16-15 win in fourth quarter and at one point enjoyed a lead of 19 points at 56-37.
Mfuchi finished with 25 points while Esther Butali top scored for Ulinzi with 11 points.
Co-operative Bank will play KPA in the other semifinal. In division one, Upper Hill beat Africa Nazarene University (ANU) 72-69 to qualify for semifinals and will join Kenya College of Accountancy- University (KCA-U), Barclays Bank and Trailblazers.
In game one to be played on Tuesday at Nyayo gymnasium, Barclays will play Upper Hill from 6 p.m. while Trailblazers tackle KCA-U from 8 p.m.
Weekend Results: Saturday: Blazers 87 Eldonets 61, 4-Christ 51 Barclays Bank 61, Equity Bank 52 Ulinzi Blades 54, Blades 46 Thunder 80; Sunday: Ulinzi Blades 49 Equity Bank 59, Upper Hill 72 ANU 69, Thunder 83 Blades 76, Ulinzi Warriors 69 Equity Bank 54

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