DONNA ATOLA

By DONNA ATOLA
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Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) Premier League sides Lakeside and United States International University-Africa (USIU-A) Flames are the champions of this year’s Biro Lich tournament.

Lakeside beat Kisumu Select 76-71 in the tense men’s final played at Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground in Kisumu on Sunday night. Flames defeated Lady Bucks 26-16 to retain the women’s title.

The triumph by Lakeside came as a surprise to many as Kisumu Select – which had players from top tier teams – were the favourites having raced to a 35-33 lead in the first quarter and led 49-41 at the break. The scales however tipped Lakeside’s way in the third and final quarter for the 76-71 win.

Select had beaten USIU-A 15-14 in semis having hammered Maseno Challengers 26-8 in quarters. Lakeside beat Ototo Secondary 30-24 in the quarters before seeing off Kisumu League side Stanbic 26-22 in the last four.

“Select was a stubborn opponent given that they had quality players but I’m glad we carried the day,” said Lakeside coach John Ogilo who was using the tournament to prepare for the upcoming KBF Premier League play-offs where they take on Ulinzi Warriors on October 26. “I wanted to work on endurance and a few mistakes from previous games. We are now set for the play-offs.”

The women’s finals was a repeat of last year but USIU-A were made to sweat by Lady Bucks for the 26-16 win. USIU-A coach Cliff Owuor was elated after winning the title for the second consecutive year.

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“The discipline my players displayed has gone a long way in bringing the win home again. We had slight mistakes in the preliminaries but we polished our game,” said Owuor.

Sila Awuor of Lakeside was crowned the men’s Most Valuable Player while Jemmimah Night of USIU-A emerged the women’s MVP.