Local champs Ulinzi Warriors road to BAL 2022 begin in Dar es Salaam

Saturday, October 30th, 2021 00:00 | By
KPA guard Keegan Oyugi dribbles the ball past Ulinzi’s Eric Mutoro during a past KBF league match. PHOTO/Print

Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) men’s league champions Ulinzi Warriors’ dream of featuring in Africa’s highest continental league, Basketball Africa League (BAL), will begin today evening in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The newly created BAL in a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), replacing the FIBA AfroLeague, tips off its second edition with the first round of qualifiers across four African cities in Conakry Guinea, Yaoundé Cameroon, Dar Es Salaam Tanzania, and Johannesburg South Africa, with Warriors seeking to emulate compatriots Kenya Ports Authority (KPA)’s first round of qualifiers’ performance in the inaugural edition and even go a step further by becoming the first Kenyan club to qualify for the Elite African Basketball League.

KPA became the first Kenyan club to represent the country in BAL in 2019, winning all their first round of qualifier’s matches held in Antananarivo, Madagascar, after beating hosts and Madagascan champions Gendarmerie Nationale Basketball Club (GNBC) 98-84, Beau Vallon Heat of Seychelles 131-56, Cobra Sports Club of South Sudan 81-78, and Usoni of Comoros 121- 74 to qualify for the second round as the best-placed team from their Group F.

The second and final qualification round was held in Rwanda, and KPA were the favourites playing in Pool B that had Mozambique’s Ferroviarro, Uganda’s City Oilers, and again South Sudan’s Cobra Sports Club, but because of poor planning by the club management, the team arrived late in Kigali, where their match against City Oilers had already been ruled out as a walkover to the Ugandans and despite putting all their late arrival and disappointments behind them to beat Ferroviario de Maputo 79-67 and Cobra Sports Club 83-53, the walkover came back to haunt them as they failed to advance.

Men champions

With the Warriors dethroning KPA to be crowned 2019 KBF Men’s Premier League champions, have now a chance to redeem the country’s miss of featuring in the inaugural edition when they take on New Star of Burundi and Cobra Sports Club of South Sudan in Pool E.

Warriors will tip off their campaign against New Star today from 5 pm before wrapping up their group campaign with the South Sudanese side Cobra Sports Club tomorrow Sunday from 5 pm as well.

“We have had solid preparations and morale in camp is high as we look forward to doing duty for club and country.

With a full house, it has helped us bond well and work on team chemistry with one mission in mind of qualifying for the next round,” said Ulinzi Warriors team captain Eric Mutoro.

Before facing the Warriors today, New Star were scheduled to open the competition against Cobra Sports Club from 5 pm yesterday, Friday 29, before paving way for the second match of the day between Brave-hearts of Malawi and hosts Kurasini Heats of Tanzania from 8 pm.

Today, after Ulinzi Warriors vs New Star 5 pm encounter, Uganda’s City Oilers will face off with Bravehearts of Malawi from 8 pm, while tomorrow, two matches will be on the cards between Cobra Sports Club and Kenya’s reigning champions Ulinzi Warriors from 5 pm while hosts Kurasini Heats will be entertaining City Oilers of Uganda from 8 pm.

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