Equity Bank’s women’s basketball team has raided the Kenya Ports Authority camp, sneaking out with two key players ahead of the Fiba Africa Zone Five Club Championships that start in Dar es Salaam this weekend.
The 2016 Zone Five Most Valuable Player Seline Okumu and the Kenya Basketball League’s most defensive player Betty Kananu have switched camp to Equity Bank two years after they joined KPA and will be the bankers’ key players at the regional games which tip off on Sunday.
“Yes, it’s true we have switched our allegiance to Equity Bank after we were offered employment and must thank KPA for the two years we have been together which saw us develop our game a lot,” said Kananu, a Kenyatta University graduate, who played for KU Oryx before moving to Masaku Sparks from where she transferred to KPA in 2016.
Arguably the best three-point shooter in the National Classic Basketball League today, Kananu, whose combination with Kenya’s all-time top scorer Hilda Indasi is expected to be lethal, will be of great help to the bankers, who will seeking their first regional trophy, after finishing second at last year’s championships in Kampala.
Speedy Okumu, a University of Nairobi alumnus, who turned out for University of Nairobi Dynamites in the local league before moving to Co-operative Bank from where she was poached by KPA in 2016, is a Michezo Magharibi Awards 2016 Female Player of the Year and was voted Most Valuable Player at the Zone Five club championships in Tanzania the same year.
KPA team manager Christopher “Magic” Ogutu on Wednesday confirmed that the two had joined Equity Bank after securing employment at the bank, bringing to three the number of quality players KPA women have lost in the last two months after star forward Felmas Adhiambo Koranga moved to the United States on a basketball scholarship in August.
Ogutu, a former KPA men point guard, however, said the team had managed to replace the trio with “well-travelled talented players” and predicted the will still retain the regional trophy for the third straight year.
“We lost three quality players but we have replaced them with six stars whom should make a big difference in our team’s set up in Tanzania”, Ogutu said.
Apart from Linet Atieno, who has re-joined KPA after two years’ professional stint in Nigeria and Seychelles, KPA have also roped in Mercy Wanyama and Melisa Akinyi from Storms, Beryl Milungo and Racheal Wandago from Kenyatta University Oryx, all who have been cleared by the African basketball authorities to turn out for the dockers in Dar es salaam.
Akinyi, daughter of former Gor Mahia and Kenya International defender John Bobby Ogolla, has been to the Africa Club Championships four times with United States International University-Africa, while Wanyama, the younger sister of Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama, has been to the continental tournament with Equity Bank last year and with KPA in 2016.
According to Ogutu, who also doubles up as the team manager for the men’s team, training for both teams has been intense adding that the coaches Anthony Ojukwu (for women) and Sammy Kiki (men) are expected to name their final lists today ahead of tomorrow’s departure.