- The final was forced to game five after Ulinzi won game four to tie series
- Ulinzi had won the title back to back
- KPA will represent kenya in next year’s Basketball Africa League
Kenya Ports Authority have reclaimed the national basketball league title after edging out defending champions Ulinzi Warriors 80-61 in the game five decider at the Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium.
The best-of-five final series was forced into game five after Ulinzi came from 2-1 down to win game four and force the tie to move the full length. KPA hosted the first two games in Mombasa, Ulinzi winning game one and the dockers winning game two.
Coming to Nairobi this Saturday, KPA won game three on Saturday to go 2-1 up, but Ulinzi responded with game four victory on Sunday which necessitated the tie breaking game on Monday.
“I am really delighted to be here and calling myself a 2021 league champion. We did it with the boys after some hard work and I am proud of them. We have a young team and we could see the energy they had and put into the game,” said Sammy Kiki, the KPA head coach.
He added; “We had to go back to the drawing board and look at our performances in all the games. We had to improve on what we didn’t do well especially the defensive rebounds and that is what won the game for us.”
His opposite number William Balozi was gracious in defeat and admitted they were second best to KPA.
“We didn’t win our offensive and defensive rebounds. We also tried so much on the threes and we were not as efficient. It would have been better if we played out into the paint. We take our lessons and now immediately start planning on the new season. We have recruited some fresh blood which we hope will spur us,” Balozi noted.
James Mwangi scored a double-double for the soldiers, sinking 17 points and 14 rebounds but it wasn’t enough to aid them to defend the title they have won twice in a row.
KPA’s Job Byron was the game’s top scorer netting 19 points and adding on seven rebounds while Ken Wachira and Tobias Odhiambo both had 15 points to their names. Wachira, who was named the Most Valuable Player also had nine rebounds to his name.
From the start, KPA didn’t look a side keen to suffer defeat on the day. They were the first on the court for warm up, almost half an hour ahead of Ulinzi, and their focus looked sharp as they went through their paces under coach Anthony Ojukwu, who also led the KPA women’s team to the title.
They had a blistering start to the game and forced Ulinzi to call a time out with 4:05 on the clock as they trailed 13-5. But, it did nothing to minimize the damage as they ended the quarter with a seven point lead, scores standing at 26-19.
They extended the lead to nine points at halftime, as they went 41-32 up, with Lennox Wange leading the way with three clutch shots from beyond the arc.
KPA totally dominated the third quarter and with 5:00 gone on the clock, they had established an 18-point gap with Wachira’s clutch three-pointer underscoring their prowess.
Ulinzi called a time out with 4:27 to play but it did little to reduce the damage as KPA established a 20-point gap heading into the last quarter.
The soldiers outscored KPA in the fourth quarter 18-17, but it was too little too late as the damage was long done.