Nairobi – A feisty performance by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) in the final game of the best of five final series saw them beat Ulinzi Warriors 80-61 and dethrone them as the men’s national basketball league champions at the Nyayo Gym on Monday night.
Defending champions Warriors were down 2-1 to force the decider after winning Game 4 on Sunday, but they couldn’t finish the job on the pitch as the Dockers ended the dominance of the army on the national league.
KPA led in all but the last quarter, their dominating and fiery display proving too much for the Warriors to handle as they squandered their shot in and beyond the arc.
The military team rallied in the final quarter to close a 20-point gap at the end of the third quarter, but it was too little too late as KPA had done just but enough to secure the title.
“Today we didn’t balance the court well and we weren’t efficient with our rebounds. We couldn’t adapt quickly when KPA came our way and it was just a bad day at the office. When we hung out, we started trying to shoot three times a few times, but it didn’t work. I told them to drop the plan and try to play two. In a final like this, when you’re down more than six points, it becomes difficult for you,” said Warriors head coach William Balozi.
His counterpart Sammy Kiki was delighted.
“We had an autopsy after giving four where we lost and we looked at what we did wrong and what we did right. We had some problems in defense and we fixed that, then we improved what we did in attack. It helped us a lot and I’m delighted to be here and say that we are the 2021-22 KBF champions,” he said.
Job Byron was unstoppable for KPA sinking 19 points and seven rebounds while MVP duo Ken Wachira and Tobias Odhiambo both had 15 points to their names. Wachira was one rebound away from a double-double as he totaled nine picks from the edge.
While Wachira, Omondi and Odhiambo led in scoring, short point guard Lennox Wange was the team’s spin-man as he pushed the team forward, throwing plays and organizing the field with prowess.
He got 11 points for the Dockers, with nine coming from beyond the arc.
James Mwangi was Ulinzi’s top scorer with a double-double, tallying 17 points and 14 rebounds while skipper Eric Mutoro had 15 points for the team. Despite the collective effort of the two, they couldn’t relish a comeback for the military.
KPA got off to a good start and led from the start, with Wange’s shot from beyond the arc lighting up the packed crowd at the Indoor Arena. Ulinzi had a disastrous start and called a timeout with 4:05 to play with an eight-point deficit, trailing 13-5.
But, KPA maintained their start with Wange swinging two straight threes as they led 26-19 at the end of the first quarter.
They kept the momentum going, with Ulinzi struggling to provide answers as the Dockers went to half-time with a nine-point, 41-32 lead. Mutoro had tried to close the gap at the buzzer with a shot from beyond the arc but it bounced off the rim, summing up their disappointing outing so far.
KPA totally dominated the third quarter and with 5:00 on the clock they had established an 18-point gap with Wachira’s three-point clutch underlining their prowess.
Ulinzi called a timeout with 4:27 remaining, but that did little to reduce the damage as KPA drew a 20-point gap going into the final quarter.
The Soldiers outscored KPA in the fourth quarter 18-17, but it was too little too late as the damage was long overdue.