Year in Review: Equity earn revenge to end KPA dominance


Year in Review: Equity earn revenge to end KPA dominance
Samba Mjomba (L) of Equity Bank challenges Annerose Mandela of KPA during the Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League play-offs finals at the KPA Makande GYM in Mombasa on February 24, 2018. KPA won 74-49 to be crowned the champions. Photo/Sportpicha.

In Summary

  • Having lost to rivals KPA in the final of the 2017 Africa Zone Five championship, Equity Bank returned to the regional event this year with great determination
  • KPA each of the previous two tournaments held and were looking for a hattrick at this year's event staged in Tanzania and began their campaign by winning all four of their opening matches

Having lost to rivals KPA in the final of the 2017 Africa Zone Five championship, Equity Bank returned to the regional event this year with great determination.

KPA each of the previous two tournaments held and were looking for a hattrick at this year’s event staged in Tanzania and began their campaign by winning all four of their opening matches.

That start was matched by Equity, making their clash a final of sorts as the winner would be crowned champion and it is the Bankers that got their revenge in emphatic fashion as they won 70-54.

Equity had gone to the championship having topped the domestic premier league with 39 points and had only lost one match in the entire regular league against KPA.

The club’s head coach David Maina said they had learnt a lot from the previous year, adding his squad was determined to do better.

Kenya’s male representaives flopped in the championship with KPA and Blades both finishing outside the top four places as Al-Ahly of Egypt clinched the title after defeating compatriots Smouha 98-97 in the final.

Africa Women Championship

 

By virtue of winning the Africa Zone Five title and finishing first runners up, Equity and KPA represented the region and the country in FIBA Africa Women Championship in Maputo, Mozambique.

The two teams posted dismal performances in the continental event with KPA finishing seventh while Equity finished ninth.

KPA who had hoped to improve on last year’s performance where they finished fifth failed to show their mettle while Equity also failed to live up to the huge expectations.

The Dockers who had finished third in their Group B matches hammered MB2ALL of Madagascar 52-49 in a seventh place finish battle.

KPA had failed to get a chance of playing in fifth and sixth place face-off after they were defeated 55-69 by Forces Armees Police (FAP) of Cameroon.

They had lost 40-73 to home team Ferroviario in quarter final stage. On their part, Equity Bank smashed Lakers of Zimbabwe 65-54 to finish in ninth place after failing to get quarter final slot.

The trophy was won by home team Ferroviario de Maputo who utilized their home advantage claiming their first-ever FIBA Africa Women’s Champions Cup title after beating five-time Winners InterClube 59-56.

Nigerian champions First Bank finished third after dismantling Victoria Club from DR Congo 93-69 in the third-place game.

Domestic league

Domestically, the rivalry between Equity Bank and KPA continued as both teams clashed in the final playoffs with the bankers winning the title hammering holders KPA 73-64 to seal their final playoffs series 3-1.

Equity, who had won the title in 2016, lost Game One 67-57 in Mombasa before pulling off an impressive rally to take Games Two (64-47), Three (64-59) and Four to be declared champions.

Both teams will represent the country in next year’s Africa Zone Five Championship after doing so in 2017 and 2018 with KPA winning the 2017 Zone Five Championship as Equity triumphed 2018.

Equity Bank reached the final after thrashing Strathmore 3-0 in the semis series winning Game One, Two and Three 65-39, 61-50, 61-32 respectively at Nyayo in Nairobi.

On their side KPA defeated Storms 75-57 in Game Three of their semis clash at the Makande Gymnasium in Mombasa. This came after a 80-55 and 63-47 wins in Game One and Two respectively in Nairobi.

Equity Bank’s power shooting guard Celina Okumu was awarded the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs after her starring role helped Equity Bank bag the 2018 league title. Okumu was the star-act in the playoffs and her heroics did not go unrewarded as she bagged the award for the second time after doing so in 2017.

KPA’s point-guard Debra Obunga bagged the Most Valuable Player award in the regular league. The 28-year- old former Kisumu Girls High School alumnus was in the thick of action with dominant performance helping the Dockers clinch a runner-up place in the tightly contested league.

KPA dominance

KPA successfully defended their crown for a third straight year hammering Ulinzi Warriors 3-0 in a five game series while Equity smashed KPA ladies 3-1 in the final series.

The Dockers needed only three matches to sweep apart Ulinzi Warriors in their best-of-five playoff final, winning 79-59 in Game Three to secure the title at the Makande Gymnasium in Mombasa. They had defeated the warriors in game one and two 77-74 and 71-55 respectively in Nairobi.

It was the second time KPA was winning the title for three consecutive seasons having achieved a similar feat between 1990 and 1992.

By virtue of finishing in the top two places, both teams will represent the country in next year’s Zone Five Championship.

KPA sailed into the playoffs final after defeating 2017 first runners-up Strathmore’s Blades 54-50 in Game four of the semi final playoffs at the Makande Gymnasium. KPA had won game one 62-54 and 69-56 in game two before suffering a 44-64 in game three.

Ulinzi Warriors qualified for finals for the first time in two years after giving Thunder a shock of their lifetime coming two games down to win three games to two in semi finals playoffs. Thunder had won game and two 80-70 and 70-57 respectively before the soldiers turned things to win game three, four and five, 93-91, 98-65 and 85-80 respectively.

At the end of the league, KPA’s power forward Dickson Aran bagged the Kenya Basketball League men Most Valuable Player award after his starring role helped the Dockers bag the 2018 league title while Ulinzi’s John Washika bagged the most disciplined player award.

In regular league, KPA almost finished the league unbeaten but Ulinzi could not allow that as they are the ones who broke their unbeaten record when they smashed the champs 72-66 at their home court, Makande gymnasium in Mombasa in September.

The Dockers topped the regular with 39 points, four points behind Ulinzi while Thunder finished third with 33 points as 2017 finalist Strathmore’s Blades finished fourth with 32 points.

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Story By Dennis Kamariki
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