Nairobi — Thunder put off a poor start to the season, winning their first match after back to back losses with a 74-66 victory over the Africa Nazarene University (ANU) at the Nyayo national Stadium Gymnasium on Sunday.
The National men’s league is continuing despite the Sports Disputes Tribunal last week annulling results from last season’s play-offs after Ulinzi were adjudged to have fielded Valentine Nyakinda ineligibly.
The Kenya Basketball Federation said the current season would continue as they consulted their lawyers on the next course of action.
Thunder had lost their opening match to Strathmore Blades last weekend and went down to Ulinzi Warriors on Saturday, but bounced back to beat ANU and put their season up and running.
“We started well, but we allowed them easy points with stupid fouls, especially in the second and third quarter. We were out-rebounded and we were not better in execution. We won with experience. We take the victory but we need to work on our weaknesses,” said Sadat Gaya, the Thunder head coach.
He added; “We started practice a little bit late. This is week three for us but I believe we will catch up and start playing more as a team. Mostly our losses have been a bit because of physical fitness. We are yet to pick up but we are working to ensure our game sharpness is better by next match.”
Jona Kioko scored a game high 20 points to lead the charge for Thunder with skipper Griffin Ligare adding 17 more. Jerry Andare contributed to 15 points, all coming from beyond the arc.
Thunder were off to a good start and led 24-16 at the end of the first quarter and were 46-37 ahead by halftime.
However, the University students regrouped after the break and came back better, outscoring Thunder by a basket to reduce the score to 58-54.
But, Thunder held on in the final quarter to lead by half a basket with a 16-15 quarter-score, to clinch their first win of the season.
Elsewhere, Equity Hawks started off their campaign in the Women’s Premier League with a 69-48 victory over the Africa Nazarene University.
At the start of the fourth quarter, ANU had taken Equity by their horns and they trailed by half a basket, the bankers leading 43-42. But, at the end of the game, experience won over youth as Sylvia Kamau’s charges went off with a win.
Equity missed several of their key players including Melissa Akinyi who is in camp with the Commonwealth Games 3×3 team as well as centre Salma Akinyi while Samba Mjomba started out on the bench as she begins her coaching journey.
The team however had experienced former National team captain Silalei Shani making her debut after joining the bankers from Eagle Wings.
Shani starred on her debut, amassing 12 points for her new side, same as Linet Atieno who wore Mjomba’s iconic number seven jersey and Cynthia Mawero.
The first two quarters were tight with the two sides going to the break tied at 29-29 with Equity having won the opening quarter 17-16 and ANU winning the second 13-12.
At the end of the third quarter, ANU was ahead by half a basket as they led 42-41.
But, the experienced Equity woke from their slumber in the fourth quarter and outscored the University students by a whole 20 points to glide to their first victory of the campaign as they seek to wrestle the title back from KPA.
In the other Women’s Premier League match played on Sunday, Strathmore Blades, coached by former USIU tactician George Mayienga gunned down JKUA 49-34.
Strathmore had started the game well and went on a 7-0 run against JKUAT, who responded with an 8-0 run but ultimately lost the first quarter 15-14. Strathmore continued their pressure and were 34-21 ahead at Half Time, a dominance they continued to the last quarter.