Strathmore Men’s Basketball Team –Blades -2017 Season
Every team wants to win in a final but for Strathmore men’s basketball team, Blades, silver glittered more than gold after competing with KPA at the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) Premier League finals.
By securing a place in the finals, Blades qualified for the Zone V championships in what was a season of many firsts. For Coach Tony Ochieng’ guiding this youthful team to unprecedented heights in a campaign that was interrupted by a tense political climate in the country provided a sense of perspective as well as the suggestion that his project was finally taking off.
“It was a really good season for us. We would have loved to crown it with a win in the finals but KPA were more experienced and they carried the day. However, I am proud of what I achieved with a team comprising of students who competed very well against professional players,” Ochieng said.
George Okoth, Joseph Ongoro, Shilton Ochieng’ and Samuel Mogoko stand out as the key players for Ochieng’s side that surprised big guns USIU and UIlinzi en route to the final. The youthful tactician spoke glowingly of the quartet whose rise represents the success of his philosophy of recruiting young players from high school and offering them a chance at the Premier League.
Mr. Ochieng further stated “They did well. Their performance was superb and it shows that they have come of age. When I brought them into the team the only experience they had was playing basketball in high school but through the sports scholarship programme they were able to join the team.”
Blades finished fourth position in the regular season with only 6 losses and with a couple of trophies under their belt including the Kenya Universities Sports Association championship. The team also won in December with an unbeaten run stretching from 2011.
“I have to thank the University for supporting this project through the scholarships since we have been able to attract the best players from high school. To see these youngsters excel at the big stage is a big plus because it shows we have achieved something,” was Ochieng’s assessment.
Painfully he regrets the absence of a key member of his dream team, Billy Nyagosia, who passed away in July 2016. He dedicates this season’s success to Nyagosia who he described as a natural leader on the court.
“Billy was my former captain. He was a great motivator and that made him very influential in my team. It was a good honor for him because we had promised him we would play in the finals. I know he is very happy with our performance,” added Ochieng’ as a tribute to the Maseno High School alumnus.
Having reaped from proper recruitment in the pre-season that saw him rope in the services of Fidel Okoth and Brian Onyango, Ochieng is keen to beef up his squad for the Zone V Championships where he wants to go past the knock-out stages.
“We are not going there to participate. We are going to compete. It is our first time so we will be going there as the underdogs. My target is to reach the knock-out stage. I want to reinforce the team with my former players Taylor Okari (Sweden based) and Valentine Nyakinda (Seychelles based). I think those two will add more experience to the team which is important in the international stage,” Ochieng concluded.