20 April 2008

KENYA : Laiser Hill dethrone Maseno


Laiser Hill Academy are this year’s boys’ basketball champions. The Rift Valley side humbled pre-match favourites Maseno School 72-70 in a nail-biting final at Mangu High School, Saturday.

Laiser’s head coach, Anthony Kirimi, was over the moon with the victory, saying: “We talked about it in training and our goal was to win the championship. It’s been a great turnaround. We feel very good about it and we’re very proud of each other.”
Bruce Ndilumanga, who scored 10 of his match’s-high 24 points in overtime, said: “I’m glad to have helped my team defeat the champions.”

Sudi Ulanga added 11 points and 10 rebounds as they led their team to reclaim the national title they last won in 2006.

Maseno head coach, Paul Otula, watched in disbelief as his side squandered a 65-63 lead with only 30 seconds of play in the last quarter.

“It stings. It is a negative exclamation point on a final. It would have been nice to walk out of here with a smile, but such is life,” said Otula.

For the former champions, Edwin Otula scored 25 points to go with 14 assists, while Moses Wanjala had 21 points and 15 rebounds.

Lots of confidence

The younger Otula was guarding a backing-down Sudi in the post when Ndilumanga, suddenly sprinted down the lane past Wanjala for an easy lay-up off the feed from Sudi. That gave Laiser Hill the lead, 67-65, with only two minutes left in the extra time. “Ndilumanga has done a good job for us,” Kirimi said. “Certainly, going down the stretch it has given him a lot of confidence and should propel him into a better situation in future championships,” he added.

After taking a 12-0 lead within the first three minutes, there was no turning back for Laiser as they held on that lead up to the ninth minute when the Otula’s boys caught up with them at 16-16.

In a game that saw both teams share the lead at different times, had Michael Otula and Tiberius Menya fouled out in the last quarter.
“We knew that Maseno would be defending a lot and they have a fouling problem, especially in this championship. So my boys kept on forcing those fouls and it paid, with two of their players being fouled out,” said Kirimi.

Had a good chance

Playing a very relaxed but coordinated game, Laiser took advantage of the many technical errors and turnovers their experienced opponents were committing. Guard Sudi was the main catalyst for the winners, terrorising his opponents with his ball artistry, as he hit baskets after baskets.

So court pressed were Maseno, that it took them a whole three minutes before they scored their first basket through Otula.

The second half was Maseno’s turning point as they rallied from 37-33 to and tie at 44-44.
“We had a good chance of retaining the trophy but they (Laiser) were the superior side. They played well and have very quality players,” said the senior Otula. Maseno had one last chance, but lost the ball in traffic. Ndilumanga, who also starred in the match, grabbed the ball and was fouled. He made one free throw.

After a Laiser Hill timeout after the normal time of play, the new champions worked the ball to Sudi who was fouled on a drive to hoop.

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