By Ariel Okall

Editor: Brenda Mwaniki

The Kenyan Men and Women’s Basketball Premier Leagues will kick off this month on February 13th. There will be lot’s of action filled games, teams have been preparing to battle after a long hiatus brought by the Covid19 pandemic. Th3Doctor’s Report decided to put down a list of teams with a high chance of winning the championship. The ranking is done by looking at player signing, which always affects the landscape of the league, previous games and how well teams are coached. Here are the top six teams in the two leagues

Moses Wanjara of Equity Bank. Photo courtesy Hoops Mtaani

Men Premier

1: Ulinzi Warriors

The defending champions haven’t done any major signings this season. The team remains pretty much the same. With the top scorer of the league, Eric Mutoro on their side, and league MVP Victor Bosire ready to make another run with the KDF side, things are looking good. Ulinzi has a super backcourt in addition their front court being led by former MVP James Mwangi, and John Washika is still strong and can cause major damage to most teams. Ulinzi, who are looking to represent Kenya in BAL, are still favorites to repeat as Kenya’s Premier League Champions.

2: Kenya Ports Authority

The Dockers have made some major improvements the offseason. They have added pieces that they believe will make them a tough side to beat. Nick Ogol From Umoja joined the Mombasa boys, adding great length and size to their lineup. The dockers will still need to recruit a high level point guard to make their team complete. KPA has won all KBF preseason tournaments and are currently looking like a championship team. However injury hit them this weekend Ken Wachira being ruled out for about six months after suffering from a fractured foot while training with the National team.

From left, Ariel Okall, Martin Kitong’o and Valentine Nyakinda of KPA. Photo courtesy FIBA

3: Equity Bank

The bankers have made the most moves, signing over five players after holding trials last year. They have improved their roster and are now having more fresh blood. Faheem Juma left Nairobi City Thunder and is now with Equity. Joseph Ongoro from the Strathmore Blades is also running with the bankers. On paper, Equity is a tough team to beat but can they walk the walk this season? The team, with Victor Ochieng and Faheem Juma, two Morans who are solid players, seems to be in good hands, but do they have what it takes to lead a championship team?

4: Nairobi City Thunder.

The Shauri Moyo side have lost some of their best pieces, Fidel Muga, Faheem Juma, and Shem Omuta have all left Thunder for greener pastures. Griffin Ligare still remains as the franchise player in Thunder, with Kevin Chogo complementing him as his number two. The Griffin effect is why thunder sits at number 4. The Kenya Moran’s captain has proved to Kenyan fans that he can lead a team, however he fell short in the finals against Ulinzi. We are all waiting to see which card Thunder will play. Will they fight or head straight to rebuild mode?

Ronnie Gundo of Blades throws down a dunk. Photo courtesy Hoops Mtaani

5: Emyba

The Embakasi side didn’t have any major additions neither did they lose any major piece of their championship puzzle. Eugene, their super guard who is now a member of the Morans, is still the go to person in that team. Felix Luke is returning from injury to add some depth to their front court is also a major improvement. They will, however, have to be consistent and improve on their defense. Defense wins championships.

6: Strathmore Blades.

Word on the street is the old Blades boys will be making a comeback. Experience is important in sports and we will love to see how that will play out. Blades who will be led by Kenya Moran forward Fidel Okoth, have a young core who will be interesting to watch. It’s been three years since they made the finals. They were eliminated in the first round by KPA in 2019. Blades comes in 6th closing this list.

Women’s Premier League

KPA vs Equity Hawks. Photo courtesy Hoops Mtaani

1: Equity Hawks.

The Champions are still favorites to win it all this coming season. Having held trials last year, they’ve added some pieces to their puzzles. Whether they are championship pieces or not we are yet to see. They do, however, give them tremendous depth and compliment the team’s core. The Hawks lost Ritah Aluoch to KPA but added Maryanne Nyagaki who has great length and size. Betty Kananu is back from injury and that will definitely make the bankers back court more lethal, which is where they dominate teams.

2: Kenya Ports Authority.

The KPA women’s team will be led by Coach Ojukwu this season. They have added some pieces too, but the core of the team remains intact. They lost Debra Obunga and Christine Akinyi to Zetech Sparks. The Dockers’ offense will have to find its footing if they want to snatch the trophy from the Equity hawks. Their front court is still a formidable force With Vilma, Taudencia Peter, and Ritah Aluoch as their main arsenal.

3: Zetech Sparks.

The varsity side made the most moves last year. They brought in players to fill almost all positions. The question is how well will they play together? We will have to wait and see that when the season kicks off. Sparks have been consistent with their practice which is a good thing. Their major challenge will be how the coaches use the players they have signed.

Strathmore swords vs storms. Photo courtesy Hoops Mtaani

4: Sprite Storms.

The Storms ladies didn’t make any major adjustments other than adding Delima Odindi from KCA. She is a good post player. The training schedule for Storms is somehow their biggest undoing. If they can get more days to work on their game they will be a tough side to beat. DeeDee Were returns from maternity leave and will be looking to continue to showcase her post moves down low. In their backcourt, we expect more. They do have a good front court but they will have to add some fresh legs if they want to make a run at the top spot.

5: Riara

Riara Scarlets, the ladies from Riara University, signed some good players. However none of them are battle tested but that doesn’t stop them from making a deep run in the postseason. They are young, and if the league underestimates them, they will easily upset the big three teams. The Scarlets have great teamwork and have been active even with the hiatus. This team will be interesting to watch.

Riara vs Strathmore swords

6: Strathmore Swords.

The Madaraka side are sixth in our list. They haven’t announced any major moves. With the talent they have we can easily say they deserve to be sixth. Can they improve? Yes, only if they bring in more experienced players. The young core of the team needs a veteran in the locker room to galvanize the team. We can’t forget that they are well coached, but can they make it to the finals?

By Ariel Okall


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