Maseno High School has produced seven contestants in the national finals of the Sprite Slam Basketball Tournament.
Erick Wanire, Valentine Nyakinda, Simon Ojuong, Vincent Juma, Ronald Ngundo, Simon Opel and Samuel Oderprevailed over 160 contestants at the Kisumu selection that picked nine stars. The others are Mzee Salim from Kisumu Boys High and Rufina Lucy from Tigoi High.
On Saturday, six players were picked at the opening competition in Eldoret. They are Tyler Okari and Nickson Were of Friends School Kamusinga, Steven Onyango (Bishop Delany High), Enoch Ngeno (Kapsabet High), Gilbert Aluoch (St Patrick High) and Susan Manya of Moi Girls High.
They will meet winners in mini tournaments in Eldoret, Mombasa and Nairobi at the finals in Nairobi on August 15.
The students are fighting for five tickets to the Basketball Without Borders National Basketball Association camp in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September. Coca-Cola and Miles and Associates International will stage a series of mini camps.
Sprite, the lemon-lime flavoured beverage, is the official soft drink of the NBA.
“We are impressed with the level of interest that the students have in the sport and our aim as Sprite is to nurture this talent ... to be great basketballers who can be ranked amongst the best in the world,” Ms Maureen Sika, the Coca-Cola Brand Manager for Kenya, said at the function.
Kenya Basketball Federation chairman Paul Otula lauded Sprite, saying: “We are grateful to Coca-Cola Company, through their brand Sprite, for this initiative as we see it helping us greatly in not only seeking out talent but also ensuring its sustainability.”
With some US$500,000 (Sh40 million) invested in the tournament in Kenya alone, Coca-Cola East and Central Africa will also refurbish 50 basketball courts across the country this year and the next, among them Railway Club, which serves as a training ground for Nairobi.
An NBA player will help out in the final, while Miles & Associates coaches will manage the selection camp in partnership with top coaches forwarded by KBF.
The tournament will also be staged in Uganda and Angola, with each country sending five players to South Africa.
Miles & Associates has stationed a country manager and two program managers to manage the slams in each of the participating nations. The country manager will ensure overall efficiency of the mini-camps and provides on-site support for the program, while program managers select and develop sites for the slams and identify coaches for each event.