Thunder on Tuesday night made a bright start in their bid to win their first ever men's Basketball Premier League title when they defeated rivals Ulinzi Warriors 75-73 in Game One of the play-offs final.
The late duel, which was watched by a big crowd, was played at Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium.
Thunder, who have been eliminated in three play-off semi-finals, led 39-33 at the break. Ulinzi, who knocked out champions KPA 3-1 in the semi-final, forced a 69-69 and 71-71 tie in the fourth quarter leaving the game to go either way.
Thunder, who trailed in the entire third and fourth quarters, had no nonsense shooting guard Griffins Ligare firing a critical three-pointer which propelled them to a 74-73 lead in the last two minutes.
Ulinzi, who are chasing their eighth league title which they last won in 2015, had their dangerous shooting guard Eric Mutoro sinking 15 points, which included three-three pointers in opening first quarter.
The soldiers were down 17-20 at end of the first quarter. Thunder, who rallied from behind to eliminate Emyba 3-1 in semi-final, remained focused to go up 39-33 at the breather.
Ulinzi took control to lead 22-18 at end of third quarter thanks to Mutoro, who fired eight points.
Turnovers committed by Ulinzi at a wrong time saw Thunder capitalize on them to go up 1-0 in the
best- of-five series play-offs final.Ulinzi finished top in the regular season, while Thunder were runners-up to qualify for the play-offs.
Forward Kevin Chogo scored 22 points and guard Griffins Ligare added 14 for Thunder.
Ulinzi Warriors replied with game high 33 points through Eric Mutoro with forward James Mwangi and guard Victor each Bosire contributing 10 for the soldiers.
Game Two will be played at the same venue on Thursday from 4pm.