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Showdown as KPA, Equity clash in basketball league

By CAXTON APOLLO
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The battle to qualify for this year’s Kenya Basketball Federation Premier and lower-tier league play-offs intensifies with 27 return leg matches lined up in Nairobi, Kisumu and Eldoret this weekend.

Women’s champions KPA face arch-rivals Equity Bank in the top clash this weekend at the USIU-A outdoor court on Saturday.

The match will be repeat of the past two season’s play-off finals. KPA won the first leg encounter 72-57 at the Makande Hall.

Men’s Premier League champions Kenya Ports Authority and last year’s finalists Blades of Strathmore University, will be engaged in tough second leg matches at USIU-A outdoor court in Nairobi Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, coach Sammy Kiki’s KPA, who easily rocked World Hope 66-57 in Mombasa last weekend, will be seeking to defend their unbeaten record as they confront hosts Equity Bank at 4.30pm.

On Sunday at the same venue, the dock men will wind up their tricky tour of Nairobi against Thunder from 3pm.

Also Saturday, Blades, who are making another attempt to win their first league title after losing 1-3 to KPA in last year’s play-offs final, will face Thunder starting at 4.30pm, before the coach Tonny Ochieng’ led side take on hosts Tigers on Sunday.

Ulinzi Warriors, who are also front runners for this year’s championship, will be away in Kisumu to meet newcomers Lakeside at Kenyatta Sports ground starting at 10am on Saturday.

In the women’s Premier League, champions KPA, who are still fresh from humiliating Masaku Sparks 80-35 will follow up their clash against Equity with a tie against Zetech University Sunday at the USIU-A outdoor court.

Victory for KPA men’s team, Blades, Ulinzi and Thunder will boost their chances of finishing the regular season in the top four positions and assured of places in the eight-team play-off quarter finals.

Coach Kiki will bank on Victor Odendo, Dickson Aran and Martin Kitonga to maintain the team’s clean record.

Experienced Equity Bank and Thunder are more than capable of spoiling the party for KPA in the battle for play-off spots.

Thunder will field basket hungry guards Griffins Ligare, Abel Nson and strong forward Kevin Chogo in their eagerly awaited clash against the champions.

Blades led by Fidel Okoth, Brian Onyango and Daryl Omondi face a tall order to grab maximum four points from Thunder and hosts USIU-A Tigers.

Storms spearheaded by the lethal Mercy Wanyama, Melisa Akinyi and Berkly Nkatha, will start as favorites against hosts Flames of the USIU-A, who have been weakened by injuries to their top players.

Storms ended KPA’s unbeaten record defeating them 67-54 two weeks ago and coach George Mayienga of Flames faces a tall order in trying to stop the high-riding Storms before their home crowd.

At USIU-A: JKUAT v 4 Christ (9am), KAA v Neosasa (9am), Little Prince v Egerton University (10.30am), Woodley Knights v Baobab (10.30am), MKU Thika v Coastal Kings (12pm), ANU v Strathmore University (12pm), ANU v Lions (1.30pm), Footprints v Strathmore University (1.30pm), USIU-A Flames v Storms (3pm), Equity Bank v KPA (4.30pm), Blades v Thunder (4.30pm)

At Kenyatta Sports Ground Kisumu: Lakeside v Ulinzi Warriors (10am)

In Eldoret: Eldonets v Kisumu Lady Bucks (11.30am)

At USIU-A: 4-Christ v Upper Hill School (9am), JKUAT v Baobab Blazers (9am), Riara University v KAA (10.30am), Little Prince v Coastal Kings (10.30am), Pirates v KDF Morans (12pm), Emyba v ANU (12pm), Zetech University v KPA (1.30pm), Oryx v Equity Bank (1.30pm), Thunder v KPA (3pm), Upper Hill School v Blazers (3pm), Blades v USIU-A Tigers (4.30pm), Lions v Terrorists (4.30pm).