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Odhiambo meets former players when Cooperative Bank face Thunder - Dec 4, 2016


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EUROBASKET NEWS
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'T9' Carey Odhiambo , the Co-operative Bank head coach will come up against some of his former players when they tackle Nairobi City Thunder in the Kenya Basketball Federation men's Premier League semifinal playoffs. In Nairobi, both teams command a good following and the series could attract many fans. The best-of-five series that begins this weekend could see players that Carey Odhiambo groomed deny his team a place in the final. Sadat Gaya, Thunder's assistant coach played for Co-op Bank for a decade under coach Carey Odhiambo . He has a good understanding of his coaching philosophy but that could have changed over the years since his departure, though slightly. Patrick Korioana, Abel Nson and Nelson Njau also passed through his hands and are an integral part of Thunder. Alongside other key players, they will play a vital role for the team in the series. 'We have veterans who know how to win and won while playing for coach Carey. He prepares his players well and I will do the same for my guys,' Gaya told Sports News Arena. 'Our playoffs games against Co-op will be different from regular season games. The intensity and what is at stake will make the games worth watching. Our target is the same as the other top four teams; to win it all.' Last season, Thunder qualified for their first-ever semifinals and lost 2-3 to United States International University- Africa. Gaya says they learnt vital lessons from the loss and hope to get it right this season. 'I learnt that momentum is key. If you have the opportunity to close out a game just do that. Last year, we took control of the series 2-1 only to fail to close it out. USIU-A bounced back to tie and win,' he said recalling their experience from last year.
He has pointed out Griffin Ligare (174-G-85), Nson, Shem Otieno, Antony Odour, Aleu Dhol, Kevin Chogo, Matt Gurton and Charles Kituyi as the key players for Thunder in the series. But, he adds that Njau and Robert Juma could be the unsung heroes for the team against Co-op Bank. 'Odour is one of the smartest post players we have. He dominates a game quietly without being noticed in terms of making crucial plays. Kituyi is also one quiet player who plays big for us and we have a lot of those kind of players.' Over past seasons, the perception has always been that of Thunder's good play and rise to the top revolving around Ligare who is their all-time leading scorer. For many times, he has risen to the occasion even in tough games and situations for Thunder. He is a sure performer in the series going by his form and Gaya notes that not only Thunder, other clubs plan their play around him whenever facing Thunder. 'Ligare has been the best player in our league for a couple of years now and he has been our leader. He is unstoppable, all coaches and teams we play against have to plan how to slow him down. By doing that, other players in our team get easy baskets and it opens up our offense,' he explained saying teamwork is behind their success. 'Playing against Ligare, there is a natural tendency to assume that Thunder is a one-man team. Once you get to play for the team and coach like I do, and be around the team, you understand that everyone plays his role to perfection.' The bankers have been strategizing for the knockouts after finishing top in regular season and getting a bye to the semifinals. They played a friendly game against Ulinzi Warriors this week.
This season, they beat Thunder in second leg but lost in first leg. It is a fixture that can sway any way with both sides boasting of quality and dependable players.
In their ranks, Co-op Bank has a game-winner in Job Byron. He has been a top player since joining from Nairobi Aviation College two seasons back and has cemented his position. Byron has top-scored for the bankers on many occasions. James Mwangi who occasionally thrills fans with dunks is yet another key player that will be part of coach Carey Odhiambo 's game plan against Thunder. Captain Brian Busu, Khaemba Situma and Allan Ouma are also expected to line up against Thunder.
The second semifinal series will begin in Mombasa with Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) hosting defending champions Ulinzi Warriors to games one and two. Strathmore University and Co-op Bank will play in women's Premier League game two on Saturday with a possible game three on Sunday. Strathmore leads 1-0 after winning game one 46-43 last weekend.
Umoja, Zetech University and Kenyatta University Pirates will begin their charge back to the Premier League when they play in Division I semifinals. Pirates and Zetech will play each other while Umoja faces Eldonets.
Courtesy of: sportsnewsarena.com   




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