Basketball: KPA steady ship in Africa League championships

KPA’s Valentine Kyakinda with the ball as Cobra’s captain Samir Cosmas follows. KPA won 81-78.

Kenya Ports Authority made it into the final stage of the Africa Basketball qualifiers after they cemented their leadership in group F in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

KPA became the fifth team from the qualifying stages to qualify for the final stage after overcoming strong opposition from brave South Sudanese Cobra Sports 81-78 on Saturday night. They still have a match at hand.

Other teams that have qualified for the final stage from other groups are Patriots of Rwanda, City Oilers of Uganda, Lions of Namibia and Mozambique’s Ferroviarro.

Yesterday’s winner of group F match between Cobra Sports and Beau Vallon Heat will join the other five teams for the final round set for Kigali, Rwanda from November 26 to December 1.

The top three teams from the Rwanda event will automatically qualify for the inaugural Africa Basketball League that throws off in March 2020.

In Saturday’s match, KPA found the going tough and they had to apply all the skills to contain the marauding Sudanese side. The dockers had 13 points from turnovers against Cobra’s 16.

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KPA led 24-15 in the first quarter before making it 40-35 at the breather. They then took a slim 57-56 slim lead in the third quarter before wrapping up the game 81-78.

Michael Kazunguzibwa was the top scorer for KPA with 20 points. Other contributors were Valentine Nyakinda (16), top performer of the tournament Okal Koranga (14) and Anthony Kidong’o (11).

Cobra’s top scorers were Owen Majok, Stephen Rumudu and Leek Malual who scored 18 points each with Alex Lado adding 17 more.

“We took our game against the Cobras seriously because we played a well refined side. It was a tight game, but the boys were focused. We became very aggressive and took advantage of our speed,” said KPA coach Sammy Kiki conceding that they had some lapses especially in defending three points.

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