KENYA : Champions KCB Lions, giants Co-op and Posta record wins in the 2010 league opener

NAIROBI (Premier League) - National champions KCB Lions played badly but still proved too strong for the promoted Blazers whom they trounced 71-41.

Lions only showed their claws in the last quarter after three turn over prone quarters. They led 16-10 in the first and were ahead 34-25 at the break before breaking away after resumption.

They put the stubborn Blazers to the sword in the last building a 52-38 edge. Tobias Onyango nailed 18 points as did Luka Lukongo while the losers, whose only points in the last was hit by John Gacheru, had 15 from Joel Atebe.

Co-operative Bank of Kenya paraded five new faces including the much travelled Peter Kiganya but had to squeeze out a narrow 68-63 win over International Christian Center (ICC).

The bankers were ahead 38-26 at half time before allowing ICC to took over the proceedings briefly in the third with a 49-48. They went up seven points but Co-op resilience saw them regain the advantage.

Co-op were superior in the last 18-10 with Nelson Njau scoring 13 points, Kiganya and Mike Makiadi shot 10. ICC had 19 from Griffin Ligare and 13 from Phil Dinga.

Posta thumped Strathmore University 84-58 in another top tie, the mailmen, who have no major signing this year, sounded a stern warning to the students from the onset as they rampaged to a 20-7 first quarter margin after an opener by Frankin Delano.

During this ten minute draught, the Blades struggled for as Posta sailed away building a 19-12 edge in the second. After resumption, the winners maintained their pressure catching the students cold with a 25-16 advantage in the third.

Strathmore then took the fourth with a 23-20 cushion but it was a tale of too little too late. Both teams settled for one win a piece in last year's championships.

Ben Oluoch celebrated his birthday with 19 points and Tony Abondo made his mark sinking 16. The losers Paul Nyakinda shot 17 and Franklin Simiyu managed 12, all coming from beyond the stripe.

University of Nairobi Terrorists were too smart for Lomboritz hitting them 59-41. Sammy Kiria was the architect scoring 21 points while at the same time manning a strong defense that saw him swat opposing attempts at will. George Omonda made 10. Mike Ogutu provided 11 for the clueless losers.

In the ladies only show, Faith Owich was good for 18 points as she led Strathmore University to an emphatic 51-36 win over Mennonites. The Swords were up 23-13 in the firts quarter but the Knights who traled 23-27 atthe break were lost. June Jumbari nailed team high 10 points.

The lowers division matches saw Mennonites thrashed Nakuru Club 84-49 after taking a high scoring 58-23 half time cushion. Steve McOdongo nailed 18 points and Collins Ochieng led with 28. The visitors had 11 from Joseph Ngochi and 14 from Dennis Makori.

World Hope also tumbled 65-87 to Parklands Baptist in another lower division match. The victors were up 41-39 and were on top of things after the breather. Collins Ngaira shot 21 and Ndomba Kariuki had 21 for Winners. Conrad Wafula 14 Eric Khayere made 15 for Hope.

Kenya Polytechnic University were down 14-22 at the breather and staged a remarkable recovery to nip Friends of Basketball (FOB) 48-44. Bryan Opiyo and Eric Makokha combined for 26 points with Joseph Achege hitting 17 for the losers.

In a related development, former national champions Ulinzi Warriors will start their campaign back to the fold in the lower division, Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) announced.

Henry Shihemi, the KBF vice chairman said that a meeting held last week decided that the soldiers, the only side to win the league five times in a row before winding in 2005, be reinstated.
"We have decided to give them a chance to participate in the league once again after they requested but they will have to start from Division One and not at the provincial level." said Shihemi.

Ulinzi had notified KBF of their intention to return to the fold after a three year hiatus and requested to be reinstated back to the premier where they signed off five years ago.

The team have recalled their star players who featured for other teams in the league since then. The are expected to dominate the league and make it back within one year.

Among the team's top performers last year and who should be the key to their revival again are guard Victors Odendo who was instrumental in KCB Lions third win in a row.

The others are ,forward John Apollo who guided Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to second place and Moses Shida whose defense helped International Christian Center (ICC) to number three.