NAIROBI –Nick Ogol and Gilbert Obiero combined for 35 points as Umoja recovered Game 1 defeat to grind down the Co-op Bank Spartans 59-48 on Saturday afternoon at Strathmore University Grounds and level the Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League semi-final series at 1-1.
Umoja, who struggled in Game 1 roared to a 6-point first quarter lead and never let up in winning the second game against the second-seeded Spartans. Umoja continued their good run in the second quarter and the margin grew to 8 points thanks to an aggressive approach that left no room for the bankers to operate.
After the Game 1 disappointment in the last two quarters, this time Umoja were calm with the ball when Spartans put pressure on them and found more ways to use their size advantage to move the ball to the front court.
Co-op Bank scrapped stubbornly but were ground down by brute force in the fourth quarter. Effective rather than inspired, Umoja pushed at the Spartans over and over until they were tender, like a pumice stone rubbing away hard skin.
Both strong and subtle, Nick was the driving force as Umoja held on to win the game. He finished with 24 points while Gilbert added 11 points crowning a super performance from the self sponsored side.
Big performances from James Ongwae, Morris Ouma and Tambo Nangoli allowed the Eldonets to bounce back from a Game 1 nightmare against Barclays Bank at home to win Game 2, 66-34, in a one sided encounter.
Eldonets strung together one of the best performances of the playoffs away from home— on offense and on the defensive end. Eldonets led 23-12 at the end of the first quarter and held Barclays to only 3 points in the second and from there the Eldoret side never looked back.
It will take massive changes from Barclays to push this series toward a competitive finish tomorrow.
In the ladies Premier League Equity Bank Hawks took care of business with a 50-23 win against former champions Eagle Wings.
After a slow start in the first quarter Footprints dug deep in the second quarter in Game 2 against Africa Nazarene University sparking a 19-11 run and in the end, moved one win from the ladies Division 1 Finals with a convincing 61-45 victory to take command of the series.
The fight might not be over yet for ANU. But it was awfully one-sided for long stretches of Game 3.