17 November 2015

KENYA : USIU-A confronts Masaku in playoffs quarters

USIU-A Flames begin their premier league defence against Masaku Sparks. (Photo by Shutterspeed)
United States International University- Africa (USIU-A) will begin the defense of their women Premier League title against Masaku Sparks as the Kenya Basketball Federation playoffs begin on Sunday.
USIU-A finished top in western conference while Masaku came fourth in Eastern Conference. Both teams faced off two weeks ago in the inter-conference game that was very competitive, the students winning 77-73.
Their clash in the quarterfinals will be a chance for another juicy encounter. On Friday night, USIU-A warmed up for the playoffs with a slim win of 43-42 over Co-operative Bank. The game was decided in overtime after the bankers came back from behind in both halves to force extra time.
In first quarter, USIU-A took a 11-2 lead after seven minutes of play. The opening three minutes were scoreless. Beldine Akinyi singlehandedly brought Co-op Bank back to the game with six straight points from two baskets and two free shots. USIU-A won the quarter 9-8.
In the second quarter, Akinyi made a basket that tied the game 13-13 with four minutes played but USIU-A led 15-13. Co-op Bank took the lead for the first time at 16-15 after good play from Mercy Etyang who made a basket and free shot.
They extended the lead to 20-15 but USIU-A fought back with Sarah Chan scoring the crucial basket that tied the game at 20-20 going to halftime. Co-op Bank won the quarter 12-11.
In the second half, it was another catch up play for Co-op Bank who could only manage a free shot in the third quarter. Zipporah Adhiambo broke the tie with a basket to give USIU-A a 22-20 lead at the start of this quarter. The students won 10-1 to open up a nine points lead.
Grace Wanjiku scored 10 points in fourth quarter including two successive three-point shots to lead Co-op Bank into a comeback. With 1:08 to play, the bankers took the lead at 37-36. USIU-A then led 39-37 before ending up 39-39.
In overtime, Zipporah Adhiambo scored a basket and two free shots to give USIU-A a 4-3 win. Chan finished with 12 points, Cynthia Irankunda scored nine and Adhiambo had eight. Wanjiku top scored for the bankers with 16 points while Akinyi scored 13.
Co-op Bank and Strathmore repeat game
Co-op Bank will meet Strathmore University in the quarterfinal playoffs game one on Sunday in a repeat of last season’s pairing when bankers won to make it to last four. Co-op Bank finished second in Western Conference while Strathmore was third in Eastern Conference.
The other quarterfinal pairings have Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) playing Eagle Wings while Equity Bank face Ulinzi Blades.
In the men's Premier League, Co-operative Bank will play USIU-A in the only playoffs game slated for Sunday. The bankers were top in Eastern Conference while the students came fourth in the Western Conference.
Champions KPA who came second in the Eastern Conference with 42 points will play against Nakuru Club who finished third in the Western Conference. Nakuru upset KPA in first leg.
On Friday night, KPA played their last game of the season beating Ulinzi Warriors 88-74. The soldiers started poorly as KPA led 32-9 in first quarter. Ulinzi won the second 19-18 but KPA led 50-28 at halftime.
Ancette Wafula who shot 12 points from the three-point line led the comeback for Ulinzi in second half combining well with Eric Mutoro and Byron Mabonga who wowed fans with his powerful dunking. KPA won third quarter 21-17 and Ulinzi the fourth 29-17.
Mutoro top scored for Ulinzi with 22 points and William Ochieng added 19. Evans Letting scored 22 for KPA with Athiey Lwal scoring 15 all from the three-point line. Arou Ramadhan who sat out in second half alongside other key players also scored 15 points.
KPA scored 18 points from the three-point line and 10 from the free-throw line while Ulinzi had 27 points coming off three-pointers and nine from free shots.
Playoffs Quarterfinals Game One (Sunday): KPA vs Eagle Wings (12p.m., Nyayo gymnasium), Co-op Bank vs Strathmore University (1:30 p.m.), USIU-A vs Masaku Sparks (3 p.m.), Co-op Bank vs USIU-A Tigers (4:30).

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