07 December 2015

KENYA : Resilient Tigers claw Thunder to draw play-off

Dec 06, 2015
  • Kevi Kigotho was the outstanding player for USIU-A who tied the playoffs 1-1 with Nairobi City Thunder.
Having lost game one 55-66, United States International University - Africa (USIU-A) Tigers needed to win the second and level 1-1 to have a realistic chance of making it to the final.
They did by beating Nairobi City Thunder 81-69 in an exciting match at the Nyayo Stadium indoor Gymnasium on Saturday.
It was an end to end match that saw Thunder commit costly mistakes. The first quarter was evenly contested. When the Tigers scored, Thunder roared back.
Ultimately, the latter ended up taking the quarter 16-13. But it all went awry for them in the second quarter when Tigers minimized their mistakes in possession and improved on their reaction to rebounds.
The big man Kevin Kigotho was doing most of the work picking the ball under the rim and Thunder found it hard to keep to the pace. Griffin Ligare who had a blistering game in the first game on Friday night was hugely subdued.
He was closed down by at least two players whenever he had the ball and was only reduced to 17 points in the entire match. The outstanding point guard had to be substituted midway through the second quarter to give him a breather as Tigers clawed back to a 36-31 score at half time.
Upon resumption, Thunder tried to tidy up their act and pushed the ball with more ease as the third quarter began managing to reduce the gap to at least four points.
Thunder tried spectacular shots
But, they got a bit over themselves, trying out spectacular shots and three pointers with their opponents meaning business and going for simple lay ups for points whenever they won possession. With Tigers taking a 59-50 lead heading into the last quarter, the game livened up.
Thunder believed they still had the match but the students were resilient, Joel Ntambwe being one of their best players as he went on to sink 20 points for his side
In the first game, Kenya Ports Authority edged out a resilient Co-op Bank 57-54. The bankers opened an 11-points gap coming into the third quarter to push the game to within three baskets by the time the quarter ended.
They put up their A game in the final quarter and with eight minutes of play remaining, had pushed the game to within half a basket, the scores being at 46-47 in favor of KPA. Belinda Akoth was particularly influential for Co-op with her height, picking up the balls easily under an army of KPA back liners.
With 4.37 on the clock, KPA had a slim 51-49 lead and this prompted their coach to call for a time out. It worked as KPA came back stronger and stretching their lead to 57-51. But the game was to have a nervy ending as Co-op pushed to within four points.
But with 20 seconds left and the arrow on their favor, KPA called for a timeout and on resumption just swung the ball around to wind down the clock and pick the first series win.
Sunday fixtures: Eldonets vs 4-Christ (10 a.m., UG), ANU vs JKUAT (9 a.m., Nyayo gymnasium), Barclays Bank vs Upper Hill (10:30), KCA-U vs Trailblazers (12 p.m.), KPA vs Co-op Bank (2 p.m.), USIU-A vs Thunder (4 p.m.).

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