Equity Hawks retain women basketball title: How it went down at Nyayo
- In the second quarter things looked miserable for the dockers as Equity crushed them 16-04 to go to halftime leading 30-13.
- After the break, KPA seemed to change tack dominating the second half winning 170-15 and 21-16 in the third and fourth quarter respectively but it was too little too late.
For those not in the know, Hawks, the birds, are known for their beauty and their sharp eyes which enables them pick out their prey with much ease.
Little wonder on Friday night, under the floodlights of the Nyayo National Gymnasium, their target KPA had no chance. They not only picked them out in style but also made a meal out of them with a sweet-savoured 61-51 win to retain the women basketball league title after a week of intense fight in the five-match final series playoffs.
But that is not all, fans, in their numbers, turned up to watch the riveting action.
By 6:30pm, the Nyayo Gymnasium was already full. Teeming souls were here in their numbers ready to witness the biggest women basketball match of the year.
The antagonists Equity Hawks and KPA were tussling out for the title.
Having claimed two wins apiece in the preceding four matches, Game Five – the final game of the five-match final-series was to determine whether KPA would reclaim the gong they last won in 2017 or whether Equity would retain the honours.
In short this was a Kenya derby; lot’s of pride at stake.
To give you a better perspective of the enormity of the match sample out this: Equity won the gong in 2015 and 2018 while KPA prevailed in 2016 and 2017, so it was a case of dominance at play.
From the Nyayo Gymnasium entrance you could see glittering trophy and medals on parade making players get fired-up more; each set wanting to don of course the winners medals – gold.
By 6:45pm, fans from all corners of the capital were seated at vantage positions to get a better glimpse, others chanted war-cry to fire their players up, some had come straight from their work places and their formal dressing told it all.
They were here united by the love of the game; ready to catch every second of it all as the champions were crowned.
After drawing 2-2 in the first four matches of the five game series, holders Equity Bank wanted to defend the title at whatever cost while former champions Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) were charged enough and eagerly awaiting to avenge to reclaim the title they last won in 2017 especially after winning Game Four on Thursday.
It was a tight and delicate match that gamblers perhaps decided to give a cold shoulder as the stakes were much higher and there was no margin for error.
But on the court, Equity did it, outwitting the Dockers 61-51 to retain the gong.
The bankers had won Game One and Three 63-59 and 54-51 respectively while KPA had won Game Two 56-50, adding to Thursday night’s heroics before the Hawks unleashed their claws to stamp their authority.
Impressive performance from Annerose Mandela who ironically joined the Hawks at the beginning of the season from KPA saw the bankers win 14-09 in the first quarter.
In the second quarter things looked miserable for the dockers as Equity crushed them 16-04 to go to halftime leading 30-13.
After the break, KPA seemed to change tack dominating the second half winning 17-15 and 21-16 in the third and fourth quarter respectively but it was too little too late.
Annerose Mandela led the scores for Hawks netting 19 points and her efforts throughout the season were recognized as she bagged the Most Valuable Player award while KPA’s Hilda Indasi scored 22 points emerging the top scorer in the game and in the playoffs to cart the top scorer award.
Winning a title is every coach’s dream and excited Equity’ David Maina soaked it all.
“I am very excited. We came with a better attitude and we dominated the game; both defensively and offensively. Our transitions were good as my players followed instructions. We managed to keep off their scoring machines Hilda Indasi and Vilma Atieno,” explained Maina.
“As a captain I am very proud of my team, we thought our ship was sinking but we managed to steady it. Team work helped us unlike in game four where we lacked cohesion,” Equity captain Esther Butali said.
On his part, KPA head coach Mike Opel was a proud man hailing his players despite the loss.
“Nobody expected us to reach game five; we played well despite the injuries. We started on a wrong note and it affected us a lot. I am very proud of my players,” Opel said.
Team captain Brenda Angeshi who was playing despite having an injury conceded defeat promising for a comeback next season.
“We had a good fight, injuries affected us and we are going back to the drawing board to come up with new tactics and probably win again,” Angeshi promised.
Both teams will represent the country in Zone Five Championship next year.
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