UNITED States International University (USIU) pipped reigning champions Co-operative Bank of Kenya 79-77 in a tough Premier League play-off finals game at Nyayo Stadium gymnasium.
The Tigers, who shut out Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) 2-0 to sail to their first ever finals, have continued to marvel in the basketball circles.
They raced away to a staggering 26-8 margin in the first quarter, a result that made all the difference. The bankers came back to claim the second 21-14 and pressed hard to take third 23-20. The bankers came in the fourth quarter equally psyched up but the 25-19 win was not enough to carry the day as USIU snatched the victory. Victor Bosire had game high 31 points while Evans Letting shot 19.
Co-op, who must come out strong in Game Two set for tomorrow and if possible Game Three on Sunday to hang on to their crown, had 26 points from Bobby Okwako and 13 from Joseph Khaemba.
"We do not want Game Three. We are coming to finish the job in Game Two on Saturday," said Tigers coach David Maina. "The pressure is on their side and if we succumb, we will turn on the heat on ourselves and this is what we want to avoid. We will have to win the next game."
Champions Eagle Wings beat USIU Flames 58-55 in the women's category. Both teams tied 14-14 in the first quarter before Wings managed a 20-10 in the second quarter. Flames took the third 15-12 and the fourth 15-12 just falling short by a small margin.
Shlalei Shani made 14 points and Evelyn Nora 10 for the winners while Hilda Indasi collected 22 points and Nancy Atieno 14 for the students who are making their second final appearance since 2007.
Co-op had beaten KCB Lions 74-58 in Premier League Game Three. They had stayed alive winning Game Two 59-51 as Joseph Khamba led Co-op with 12 points and James Mwangi nailed 10. KCB had claimed Game One 67-57.
In the lower division finals, host Nakuru Club hit Nairobi Aviation College (NAC) 69-53 at Menengai High School to move closer to winning the title. NAC beat Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) 2-1 while Nakuru also shut out Upper Hill School by the same margin.