22 February 2015

KENYA : Teams shape up at Pre-season Tourney

  • Cooperative Bank coach Carey Odhiambo at a past game with his team.(Photo:SNA File)
Most of the teams continued preparations for the 2015 Kenya Basketball Federation league at the pre-season tournament held over the weekend at Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium.
The new season begins on March 14 and the tournament was meant to aid in their preparations. Former men premier league champions Co-operative Bank fielded two teams that played each other in the final. Spartans beat Co-op Bank 47-33 helped by 15 points from Athiey Lwala and 10 from Nick Anyang. David Ogolla scored highest for Co-op Bank with 6 points while Spartans led 29-20 at halftime.
In the semifinals, Spartans won 48-45 against United States International University- Africa (USIU-A) while Co-op Bank beat Blades 42-34.
Spartans came second in Pool A with 5 points while Blades topped with 6. USIU-A and Co-op Bank tied in Pool B with 5 points each but the students finished top having beaten the bankers 47-36 in their tie.
The tournament was the last assessment platform for Co-op Bank head coach Carey Odhiambo as he fine-tunes his final squad for the upcoming season.
“We had 22 players in trials so we used this tournament to see who to pick as well as try out different combinations,” he said.
“We have statistics for every player in all games they played that we will use in making selection. We will not drop a player with no reason because we want only seventeen so five have to go.”
Strathmore University also had two teams that took part in the league last season. It is a tough season ahead for head coach Tony Ochieng as he seeks to get answers to their playoffs jinx.
Strathmore look to strengthen team
His teams are always at their best in regular season but fails to get past the playoffs quarterfinals.
“Our biggest problem is examinations because they come mostly when we are heading to playoffs. Its a big priority for the players because they are students and we can do nothing. Our training is hugely affected,” he said.
Ochieng had an opportunity to see some of his new players promoted from the low-tier team play at the pre-season tourney but most of them will link up in April.
“We had trials and over 70 players turned up but we will select only ten. The program we have has helped in ensuring consistency every season because I don't pick established players but straight from high school.”
He plans to hold a series of high-profile friendly games with league sides before the season starts. With the first league title still elusive for Strathmore, Ochieng is planning to employ a new strategy this season and mount a solid challenge for the title.
“I will come up with one strong team comprising of best players from the two teams plus a few recruits. The rest will form the second side.”
In the women category, only newly promoted Equity Bank and Co-op Bank participated playing two games. Equity won both 33-21 on Saturday and 36-25 on Sunday.
In the Sunday tie, new signing Hilda Indasi top scored with 12 points and Eleanor Musundi added 9 for Equity. Mercy Etyang and Mercy Achieng scored a combined 12 points for Co-op Bank.
Equity is angling to make a positive mark in their first premiership season and head coach David Maina was happy taking part in the tourney.
“Even though we have not played well, Co-op Bank was good opposition for us and we consider our participation value adding,” he said.
The team has only signed Indasi formerly with USIU-A and Mercy Wanyama from Sprite Storms with the hope of finalizing at least one more signing before pre-season ends.
Denise Apondi and Samba Mjomba who joined Equity last season from Strathmore and Eagle Wings respectively are some of the experienced players in the team.
Maina says their individual experience should not be used to judge the team’s performance this season.
“The most important thing is whether they will gel together because if they don't its a different story.”
Full results: Spartans 21 Blades 29, Strathmore University 45 USIU-A 38, KCA-U 33 ANU 38, Umoja 35 Co-op Bank 37, Blades 45 KCA-U 37, Strathmore 36 Umoja 39, Strathmore 29 Co-op Bank 32, Blades 31 ANU 26, Co-op Bank ladies 21 Equity Bank ladies 33, Spartans 42 KCA-U 34, USIU-A 47 Co-op Bank 36, Equity Bank ladies 36 Co-op Bank ladies 25; Semifinals- USIU-A 45 Spartans 48, Blades 34 Co-op Bank 42; Final- Spartans 47 Co-op Bank 33.

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