George Mayienga, the United States International University- Africa (USIU-A) head coach admitted their path to the Kenya Basketball Federatio women’s Premier League playoffs final was not easy.
The students who face Kenya Ports Authority this weekend in Mombasa edged out Equity Bank 57-47 at the Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium on Monday to win the series 3-2. USIU-A had to rally from down twice to qualify for the final.
Said Mayienga: “Up to game five, it was tough. People think that Equity came to the league just this season but they are full of national team players. With players like Hilda Indasi, Samba Mjomba and Salma Akinyi, they had one of the best teams this season.”
The coach admitted his players who did not have adequate preparations because they only resumed training two weeks ago gave out their best. They barely have time to re-charge before traveling to Mombasa on Friday to play games one and two over the weekend in a repeat of the last two seasons finals.
He predicted it will not be an easy outing for his side. “The girls know it will be tough because KPA will be at home and they have had enough rest,” he explained.
“They won their series 3-1 but ours was 3-2 which shows we have put in a lot to qualify. At the moment, I was prepared for these five games and now we will have the next three days to know how we will approach the final.”
Equity led six times
Equity did not go down without a fight as they stretched USIU-A to the limit. They led six different times in the game compared to five by USIU-A . There were six ties.
USIU-A won first quarter 18-15. Samba Mjomba opened with a free shot to give Equity 1-0 before USIU-A went 2-1 and then a 4-4 tie. Equity then led 6-4 before a 10-10 tie and assumed the lead again at 13-10. USIU-A took the lead at 16-15 to finish the quarter on a high.
When second quarter resumed, Samba hit a three-pointer to tie 18-18 and Denise Apondi made it 20-18 with a basket but tied again 24-24. USIU-A then led 26-24 and went on to claim the quarter 15-13 for a 33-28 halftime lead.
The students extended their lead to 38-32 in third quarter but Equity scored 6-0 to level 38-38 before leading briefly 40-38. Sarah Chan sunk two free shots to close play at 40-40 with Equity winning the quarter 12-7.
Chan exploded in fourth quarter shooting over 50 percent to lead USIU-A to a strong finish as they won 17-7. Equity started the quarter with a 41-40 lead courtesy of a free shot by Samba but Cynthia Irankunda made a basket for 42-41 and the students went on to open a 12-point lead at 54-42 with three minutes of play remaining.
Irankunda top-scored for USIU-A with 18 points and grabbed six rebounds while Chan added 16 with 20 rebounds. Samba was Equity’s top scorer with 17 points and Salma Akinyi added 12.
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