Madina stars with impressive double double as KPA start AWBL dream on a high

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 13 – Madina Okot starred with an impressive double-double of 20 points and 18 rebounds as national champions Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) started their Africa Women’s Basketball League (AWBL) campaign with a thumping 82-46victory over DR Congo’s CNSS in Alexandria, Egypt, on Tuesday night.

Okot, just fresh from helping Kenya’s team clinch the Africa 3×3 title also added on five steals and a block to her impressive performance. Victoria Reynolds had a game high performance of 23 points, 18 of those coming from beyond the arch as she converted six of her eight three-point attempts.

“We started badly but were able to adjust in the second quarter and take a comfortable lead for the win. It was all about concentration and focus and we should have done better from the start,” coach Anthony Ojukwu told FIBA’s Website after the game.

He added; “The adjustment in the second quarter wasn’t about skillsets, I just asked them to bring back the energy that we play with normally and the team desire for a win and that made the difference. They (CNSS) are a very physical team and we had to play smart.”

KPA struggle to find rhythm

Madina Okot prepares to take a shot. PHOTO/NBA
Madina Okot prepares to take a shot. PHOTO/NBA

At the start, KPA struggled to find their rhythm, trailing 8-6 and 15-13 in a closely contested first quarter that witnessed five lead changes and 2 ties as Reynolds scored 8 of the Kenyan champions’ 13 while Gracia Nguz led the scores with 6 for the Congolese side.

In the second quarter however, KPA were back a much improved side, shutting out CNSS for only 4 points while scoring 24.

Grace Tolo made a layup that took the score to 17-16 in her side’s favour with just 40 seconds played in the quarter before the Dockers went on a 20-point rally to lead 36-17.

It was Tolo, again who came to her side’s rescue just when they were about to finish the stanza with a mere two points, scoring two free throws for her side in the last 43 seconds for the clash to head to the break on a 37-19 scoreline.

They went on to assert the same dominance in the third and fourth quarters.

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Taking a game at a time 

KPA captain natalie Akinyi in close guard. PHOTO/NBA
KPA captain natalie Akinyi in close guard. PHOTO/NBA

“We are taking this competition one game at a time while believing we are one of the favourites. We will not underate any team as we want to finish in a good position for the next round,” Ojukwu offered.

Meanwhile, Equity Hawks put their campaign back on track with an 87-69 win over Benin’s Aspac, bouncing back from their opening day defeat.

Equity’s Congolese import Malu Grace and Betty Kananu both returned double-double performances, Malu accounting for 25 points and 17 rebounds while Kananu had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the side to victory.

Skipper Melissa Akinyi also had a good outing with a 21-point performance, while Maryanne Nyagaki also had a double-digit scorecard with 11.

Pushed the ball more 

Equity Hawks celebrate their victory in the AWBL. PHOTO/FIBA
Equity Hawks celebrate their victory in the AWBL. PHOTO/FIBA

Hawks coach Ben Oluoch said in his post-match interview: “We pushed the ball more and our shots were falling in the final period which wasn’t the case in the opening three quarters so we will look to build on this momentum going forward.”

“We reduced our turnovers in this match from 37 in the opening match to 21 but that number is still high as we allowed them to score 26 points from our turnovers. We still need to take care of the ball better and improve our conversion percentage. We missed a lot of open layups as well and it took time for us to adjust so we will need to work on that,” Oluoch added.

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