The race to this year’s men’s Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League play-offs intensified at the weekend, with three top teams tied in fourth place in the table of standings after key return leg matches in Nairobi.
The four teams are eight-time men’s champions Co-op Bank, Blades and KPA. KPA, who recaptured the Premier League last year after 23 years, beat hosts Kenya College of Accountancy-University 72-51 at Nyayo Stadium Gymnasium on Sunday.
The return leg match saw KPA go down 15-19 in the second quarter. Front runners Co-op Bank and Blades had no engagement at the weekend.
KPA’s victory left the three teams tied on 25 points each after playing 14 matches, winning 11 and losing three. Ulinzi Warriors head the competition with 31 points after having won 15 outings and lost one.
USIU-A Tigers occupy the second spot with 26 points. The university students have registered nine victories and eight loses so far in the league this season.
Umoja, the surprise team of the season, are third with also 26 points, having won 65-58 against troubled Zetech University at the weekend.
Umoja, who are seeking a first appearance in the play-offs after gaining promotion to the top-flight league this year, have so far won 10 matches and lost six. Umoja have however played one match less than Tigers.
On Sunday, KPA had Ariel Okall scoring game-high 30 points as they raced a 21-13 first quarter lead over KCA-U. Relegation-threatened KCA-U, coached by Charles Goro, were lifted in a large part by Kevin Otieno and David Omondi, but their efforts counted for nothing at the end.
At the same time, former women’s Premier League champions USIU-A Flames are back on track after registering a 69-53 win over Eagle Wings on Sunday.
The two-time champions won their fifth straight match after a mediocre start in the first leg. Veteran Angela Okoth scored 21 points for USIU in the match, and Melisa Akinyi hit 20 for Flames, who moved from ninth to sixth position in the table of standings.
Flames increased their points tally to 17 from six wins and five loses. Coach George Mayienga said: “The girls have realised that the five key players who left will not return and the responsibility of making the play-offs remain in their hands.’’
Men: KPA 72 KCA-U 51; Lions 62 Zetech University 54; KDF Morans 48 Little Prince 43; Upper Hill School 47 Zetech University 37; KAA 78 Eldonets 86. Women: Daystar University 47 Gladiators 37; Lady Bucks 52 KCA-U 39; USIU-A Flames 69 Eagle Wings 53; Storms 54 Strathmore University 64; Footprints 59 Masaku Sparks 52.