05 January 2010

KENYA : What lessons did Kenyan teams KPA and Co-op Bank learn during Africa championships ?

NAIROBI (Africa championships) - Africa championshipsLike Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Co-operative Bank of Kenya went to the Fiba Africa club championships as Zone Five winners but they will never cherish those memories at all now and in the future.

KPA women's team traveled to Cotonou, Benin for the 15th FIBA Africa club championships while Co-op went to Kigali, Rwanda for the 24th edition. They learnt the hard way that these championships are not for the ill prepared.

The results from these two tournaments were more or less the same which poses some hard questions about the performance of Kenyan teams at the continental podium.
Both teams got off to a flying start winning their opening matches. KPA with a huge 74-34 thumping of home girls Energie while Co-op squeezed a narrow 71-70 against Warriors of Uganda.

After that the mountain then became too steep to climb for the two Kenyan representatives.KPA and Co-op then played meek losing all their their preliminary round matches.
KPA got off their campaign to a fine start whipping home girls Energie 72-32. Co-op had to squeeze a narrow 71-70 win over Warriors of Uganda, a team they easily handled in the Kampala qualifiers.
KPA were downed 51-66 by Desportivo (Mozambique), 84-29 by eventual winners First Bank (Nigeria), 40-63 to ABC (Ivory Coast), 47-54 to Apolitecnica (Mozambique), 43-48 to CSA (Ivory Coast) and 50-65 to Deepwater (Nigeria).

Back to Co-op who did their best but still lost 75-83 to Inter of Congo, went down hard 79-49 to Aspac of Benin and were whipped 110-54 by reigning champions Primiero d'Agosto.
The similarity did not end there. The two teams sneaked to the quarter finals by wining one game, thanks mainly to the teams that failed to show up in Cotonu and Kigali event respectively.

That dubious distinction of reaching the last eight was quickly rendered useless as the two giants fell like nine pins bringing their club championship ambitions to a sad end.
KPA suffered a 51-66 loss at the hands of then champions Desportivo while Co-op were handed a thorough beating as Agosto showed them who were kings in that humiliating 106-56 loss.
From there it was the classification- the losers finals- and here they did not perform any better. KPA wound up eighth in a ten team show while Co-op were also number seven in a nine team event. Nothing to be proud of really.
The KPA and Co-op club championship outings raised some of the hardest questions that fans keep asking without ever really getting an answer. When will there ever be a podium finish for Kenya ?

So what ails Kenyan basketball at the continental scene ? Is it aged players ? Lack of foresight and planning by the coaches, lack of talented players to perform at that level? physique ?

Why does the Kenyan teams go out the Africa championships it is always predictably what position they wound finish. Co-op had a suspect preparations going into this event.

In their first outing in Luanda in 2007, APR finished sixth, they were eighth in Tunisia in 2008 and won bronze medal at home. Aren't there some lessons for Kenyans. ?

Angolans dominate Africa. Nearly all players are local based and the fact that they have maintained their sterling run in the continent both at the club and national level is admirable really.

Co-op have hugely gifted athletes, they have the height and the body and some of the most talented players in the country. So what happened ? Anything coach Carey Oketch and Bogonko Bosire ?

Pundits talk about team selection. They are asking why two of the most experienced players in local basketball and who would have given immense contributions were not put on the plane to Kigali ?
If you want to compare your standards in African basketball then there is no better barometer than the Angolans- both at the club and national team level.They will teach you a few lessons- softly or violently.
And this time round, Co-op saw a lot of the Angolans and they were hit hard losing by over 100 points to two of Africa's most clinical sides in eventual winners Primeiro d'Agosto and Petro Atletico.

Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) first vice chairman and the man who is with the team in Rwanda - Henry Shihemi said that the Kenyans learnt a lot in the championships. If only they will let all and sundry see what gains are being made.

KBF must now come in and make Kenya basketball look good in the eyes of everyone in the continent. The question is not when, the sooner the better.

FIBA Africa

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