KPA eyeing strong league finish despite injury setbacks

Fresh from a two-week rest since returning from the FIBA Africa Zone Five Championship in Tanzania, Kenya Basketball League (KBA) defending champions Kenya Ports Authority will be back in action this weekend aiming to unleash a strong finish. Being their penultimate league match for the season, KPA will be looking to extend their lead when they lock horns with Lakeside at Kenyatta Sports Ground in Kisumu. The Dockers have already sealed the first position finish after garnering 36 points from 18 matches, but are keen on a proper build up to the playoffs scheduled early next month. KPA head coach Sammy Kiki will however have to play without some of his key players reserved for the playoffs. “We started training this week. I had players who got injured during the Zone Five tournament and I want to rest them further so that they can be in good condition when get into the playoff,” he said. KPA will be missing the services of Ali Salim, James Mwangi and Frank Omondi, but Kiki will be introducing Toby Odumbe, John Wijass and Jonathan Kishibagaya who were not in the Dar es Salaam tour. Captain Samuel Ocholla underscored the last two matches will influence their performance in the crucial playoffs. “We are now ready to carry on from where we left before the Zone Five duel and finish on a high note. We are psyched up knowing playoffs are a different affair all together hence we don’t want surprises,” Ocholla said. Before facing the defending champions on Sunday, Lakeside will have another big task as they will be facing last year’s first runners up Blades of Strathmore University on Saturday. Blades, who lost their last weekend match to Thunder 61-62 will need a win to keep alive their chances of finishing fourth, according to head coach Tony Ochieng. “I have to prepare my players mentally and pull quick basketball. We have to improve on execution and run the floor well,” offered the coach. Meanwhile, Umoja who have secured themselves a place in the playoffs currently sitting sixth with 28 points will play struggling USIU in their last league match on Sunday. Head coach Martin Okwako wants to better last season’s performance once in the playoffs, noting the last league match will be a catalyst into the matches. “Last year we lost in the quarter finals and this year we want to go at least a step further. We have what it takes and we can compete with anyone,” a determined Okwako said. Before playing Umoja on Sunday, USIU will be taking on Trailblazers on Saturday at the same venue. Ladies Premier League On the ladies side, defending champions KPA who are currently second on the table behind league leaders Equity Bank will be focusing on a top-two finish when they face Western Delight in Kakamega on Saturday. This will be KPA ladies’ second last match in the league, fresh from the Zone Five championships where they finished second. “The team is ready and we have learnt a lot from the recent championship in Tanzania. Our objective is to define our strengths to maximise on them,” KPA ladies coach Anthony Ojukwu said. Western Delight who are second last on the log will later on face KU Oryx who are third last on Sunday, at the same grounds. Third placed Storms will be playing their last match of the season against Footprints on Saturday at USIU grounds. Saturday October 20, 2018 Western Delight VS KPA (WP) Lakeside VS Blades (MP) Storms VS Footprints (WP) USIU VS Trailblazers (MP) Sunday October 21, 2018 Lakeside VS KPA (MP) Western Delight VS KU ORYX (WP) Umoja VS USIU (MP)

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