The 2017 Kenya Basketball Federation playoffs are already underway! While many people, myself included, just want to crown KPA ladies champions, there are some other juicy stories brewing. Will KPA men repeat? Can the Equity Hawks overcome a below par international outing and bounce back in the playoffs to win the title two years in a row? We all know who will be in the division 1 ladies finals, who will be the winner? Will Barclays cap the good season by qualifying to the premier league?
These headlines, as well as many others, have all taken a backseat. Hold those thoughts for now so that we can have a look at the upcoming weekend match-ups.
Kisumu Lady Bucks vs. Strathmore | Game 1
Let the battle of brothers begin!
Kisumu Lady Bucks have had a good run this season especially at home coupled by wins here and there against mid-table teams and this quarter-finals game is no different having beaten Strathmore home and away in the regular season.
Lady Bucks are lucky to have the home-court advantage in the first game and will count on Stephanie Tongoi’s contribution in the paint. With the addition of Carol Akinyi, Mary Achieng and Judy Otula from Western Delight in mid season, the trio has given coach Collins Omondi enough depth to back regulars Drani Fruto and Joyce Misita.
For Strathmore Carol Ouma is the engine that drives the team on offense, the veteran can stretch a defense quite as well as opening up the game for guards to penetrate and everyone else hitting open shots.
Abel Nson: Haven’t Watched Lady Bucks play.
Merxine Milimu: I have never watched them play.
Toni Abondo: Strathmore will win by 15 points.
Agatha Jamari: Lady Bucks wataoshwa na maji ya Lake Victoria…..sweep.
ANU vs. Footprints | Game 2
This is one series that is as good as done. Footprints were efficient in Game 1 from tip-off to the final buzzer. If Africa Nazarene University want to stand a chance at preventing Footprints from making it to the Division 1 ladies final, they need a consistent strong performance from their starting five led by point guard Karen Shihundu and Kush Vyna.
ANU’s home-court counted for nothing considering their disjointed performance at home. They will need to find continuity on offense if they are to keep up with the efficient Footprints. ANU have a strong, young core of players, but they may find it difficult to overcome the seasoned Footprints players.
Footprints strength has been in their team work, coach Juma Kent’s rotation saw the team get decent contributions from Emily Achieng, Brenda Ngaira, Daisy Ayodi, Terry Naomi, Purity Wachira and Truphosa Mochache.
Abel Nson: Footprints will destroy ANU…no players there.
Merxine Milimu: Footprints will destroy ANU..ANU don’t have the experience for such a game.
Jamari Agatha: ANU does not have what it takes to match up with Footprints…Footprints has more firepower on both ends of the court…the least ANU can do it loose with some dignity.
Barclays Bank vs. Eldonets | Game 2
The ageless Mike Lopokoyit, Abel Kimondo and Franklin Delano once again will bring their fundamental talents into battle against Eldonets in Game 2. Barclays has been the best team in the KBF division 1 league all season.
They have unprecedented experience in their depth, and they play with a natural grace through ball movement that makes them one of the most beautiful-to-watch teams in the league.
Though Eldonets started the regular season on a high, the Eldoret based side lost their plot halfway in the season and things have not been the same for them since. Game 1 loss at home tells the whole story and they are now left with a mountain to climb in Nairobi, winning two games in a row against the bankers will not be easy. So are they coming to the city to just honor game 2?
Barclays may want to dispel their “old-team” label, and remind people that they can still compete in the premier league next season.
Abel Nson: Barclays will win the series..maybe 2-1.
Toni Abondo: Barclays will win against Eldonets. Home court advantage and will be an easy win if Delano plays well as usual.
Strathmore vs. Lakeside | Game 1
Both teams were stretched in their respective semi-finals series. After going down to Africa Nazarene University in Game 2, Strathmore dominated Game three to storm the semis.
Kisumu Lakeside won in Nairobi and it looked like it will be a walk in the park for Lakeside going into game 2 at home but apparently the basketball gods had other ideas. Lakeside had to wait for game 3 to seal the deal.
With games 3, 4 and 5 in Kisumu, Lakeside will be comfortable winning just one game in Nairobi but for Strathmore these two games mean everything to them. Anything short of a 2-0 lead will surely dent their chances to advance to the finals.
Abel Nson: Kisumu Lakeside with a full house can eliminate Strathmore boys.
Jamari Agatha: Strathmore will beat Lakeside, Strathmore has a better match-up since their guards are much better than those of Lakeside..Lakeside only depends on their one big-man who will be well taken care of by the multiple big-men in Strathmore…this will also be a sweep.
Equity Bank Hawks vs. Eagle Wings | Game 1
Lets not overthink this one, Equity Bank will boss this series. The Hawks know how to up the ante in the playoffs.
Eagle Wings enter the series rested and healthy, meaning the Hawks might have to dig deep but in the end the former champions will give the reigning champions a couple decent runs in the series, but not much beyond that.
The Hawks shouldn’t have much trouble with Eagle Wings, the defending champions’ superior talent and higher ceiling will prove to be too much. Though Eagle Wings might put up a good fight, Hawks will ultimately prove to be too explosive and deep to be contained by the former Queens.
Abel Nson: No contest.. lets wait for the ladies finals already.
Merxine Milimu: Hio part ya fatigue ni noma cant write off experience.
Toni Abondo: Equity will have a walk in the park against Eagle Wings. 1. Machungu ya talk ya African championship 2. Because they have depth and experience..but in my opinion burnout is real so Mercy, Samba Hilda and Sande should rest.
Jamari Agatha: It will be tough due to fatigue but Equity will take it..basically because they are trying to prove something especially with the bad show at the FIBA games.
Umoja vs. Co-op Bank | Game 2
Umoja had one of their best regular seasons in a long time, from going to a 7 game wining streak to beating big boys like Ulinzi Warriors. This match-up though brings out many challenges for the Eastlands side. For Co-op Bank Spartans the playoffs is the beginning of the season for them, they have been at this stage for the longest time and know what it entails to compete at this level.
In Game 1 Umoja put up a fight but couldn’t contain the bankers in the last two quarters before going down 41-57. The only thing Umoja can bank on is the bankers poor outdoor performance …the bad thing though is, these are the playoffs, the Spartans understand very well how important the games are.
Will Umoja be able to contain the hard working Job Byron, James Mwangi and Kevin Kigotho in the paint?
Abel Nson: Co-op has experience and have great teamwork. They will use that to their advantage. In as much as Umoja is led by the former Co-op talisman Alan Ouma, their lack of playoffs experience might be their downfall.
Note: For Umoja to stand a chance they need to ensure big man Nick Ogol uses his size properly and makes Co-op use bodies on him. Munene and Gilly also have to step up and keep Co-op guards honest on defense.
Result:- Co-op 2-0 by a small margin.
Merxine Milimu: Umoja may surprise Co-op juu Co-op seem to underrate teams when playing outdoors, 2-1.
Toni Abondo: Co-op will beat Umoja..Umoja only have a chance if they don’t over focus on Allan because Co-op want that since they know how to piss off Ous.
Jamari: Coop will win…simply because they have the discipline to push them through…Umoja is scattered and falls victim of playing hero ball ..which will not help especially now that they face elimination.
Blades vs. USIU Tigers | Game 3
Does the series lose some of its luster now that Blades coach will not be on the bench?
Shenanigans aside this match-up has been DOPE!
Though coach Tonny Ochieng is suspended for two games, this will not affect Blades a great deal. Blades have always found a way of playing well when the head coach is not on the bench.
Blades playing at home might play a part in how the game goes, in Game 1 USIU Tigers were a mess at Strathmore Grounds. Everything was working for the hosts who comfortably won 70-57. Tigers recovered to win a close Game 2 59-58 at Africa Nazarene University last weekend with Yoni Wanambiro saving the day with a free throw at the buzzer.
This series is too close to call, at home Blades are sharp! Once shots start falling for Shilton Ochieng, George Okoth and Joseph Ongoro it will create room for the big men to operate.
USIU went full-tank mode last weekend and Blades struggled to keep up with Alex Ramazani who was absent in Game 1, Ramazani’s basketball mastery is given once again in Game 3, his contribution was vital with 24 points points in Game 2. Blades will have to manage him as best they can and focus on his teammates.
Abel Nson: USIU will eliminate Blades. They made a mistake to allow a pivotal game 3. Expect a fury Ramazani.
Merxine Milimu: Strath will beat USIU machungu ya half a basket win.
Emyba vs Blazers | Game 2
Emyba blew out the Blazers in each of their two match-ups this season, giving Blazers little reason to feel optimistic heading into this series.
Going into the playoffs Blazers didn’t want to hear none of that as they brushed off Emyba 60-62 thanks to an Anthony Abondo’s last minute basket and set the tone.
Blazers have Emyba on the ropes, for now, Emyba never saw this coming and a Game 2 loss will complicate matters for the unpredictable Embakasi side.
Abel Nson: Hmm Blazers is the weirdest team i have ever seen..great season bad playoffs.. a bit like Daystar ladies..😅🏃🏾🏃🏾
Merxine Milimu: Emyba will win the series.
Toni Abondo: Tough one to call.