KENYA : Co-op Bank and Kenya Ports must start early preparations for the final tour

Co-operative Bank of Kenya and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) did the country proud by winning the Fiba Africa Zone Five club championships in Kampala, Uganda.

But now the hard part is just starting. Qualifying alone is not enough, the two teams must work extra hard to make a mark in the continental championships latter this year.

Kenya was represented by five teams and three of them got to the medal bracket during the games played in Kampala.This is a commendable feat by all standards.

Co-op Bank and KCB Lions (men) KPA (women) did well to be recognised while KPA men and Eagle Wings finished in the fourth spots in the men and women category respectively.
But it was not easily and they knew it. The record 19 teams -11 and 8 teams that paraded at the YMCA Wandegeya courts and Makerere University courts exhibited good quality basketball.

The Ugandans entered six teams and for the first time ever, managed to send two sides Kyambogo Warriors and Kampala City Council (KCC) Leopards to the finals.

There is no mincing words, Uganda teams did remarkably well giving a good account of themselves losing to eventual winners Co-op and KPA. Their crowd was superb.

The Rwandese APR and Marines, CSK just missed in but had some memorable results too, The Tanzanians ABC and JKT found out that they need to participate regularly at this level if they are to be at part with their rest in the region.

That is the stark reality they had to embrace in Kampala. One just hope that they learn from the experience.The only answer is to keep comin and taking part, the good results will follow.

"We are down not because we do not have players capable of performing at this level, but simply because we do not consistently take part in the Fiba Africa organised tournaments" noted one official.

That Co-op and KPA booked themselves a ticket to the Africa club championships latter in the year is welcome news. Whether they will be good enough for the championships is a story for another day.

Co-op will to Kigali, Rwanda for their first in over ten years while KPA will fly to Cotonu, Benin. Both clubs have been at that podium before.

KPA are regulars while Co-op will make a return after over ten year hiatus- they played in the old version of the event long before the current system of the final tour system has been introduced.

The biggest dissapointment in the tourney was the standard of officiating. The referees were not up to scratch, at times they made some bad decissions but the games went on with only one bad incident.

Eagle Wings walking out the third/fourth play off game against APR was in bad taste and their coach verbal tirade at the match commissar was not good for the game either.

Injustice was also seen during the KCB/KPA preliminary round game where forward Samuel Mogeshi was denied a chance to go to the line for two foul shots after the referee made a call and the buzzer sounded.

With KPA leading 72-71 Lions felt cheated. They believed it was their right to take the two shots. A similar incident happened a day latter and the shots we given ! such double standards.

KCB team manager George Odhiambo "Nyundo" ruled out a protest instead asking his agitated boys to take it easy only saying. "We will meet them again and we will beat them this time round." he predicted.

How sure, he was as the two Kenyan giants did meet again in a match that determined the third and fourth placed team in the event. KCB emerged 68-64 winners.

Dann O'Werre
FIBA Africa