Kenya Basketball Federation Elections – Let the will of the People prevail

One of Kenya’s lacklustre sports bodies the Kenya Basketball Federation is scheduled to have its elections sometime later this month. Coming from a forgettable tenure will be the current chair one Mr. Paul Otula who doubles up as a principal of a leading national school.
Along with other officials Vice-Chair Henry Shihemi another school administrator, Vitalis Gode and Joseph Amoko, this group of officials have seen a steady decline in the sport since coming into office 4 years ago.
While many of the sports bodies collect this and that accolade at the annual gala awards organised across the country, the Federation has not been able to put forward a show to win any accolade or have a similar award system for its very best.

Poor Show
While some may say that there have been slight improvements thanks to the Friday Night Basketball games, much remains to be seen on how it has improved the players’ and indeed the game’s lot.
The concept of weekend night games is itself a noble one though KBF has not acted upon it and owned it fully resulting in more entertainment than basketball core values being upheld.
Away from this, the Kenya Premier League which is the highest level of play of the game has not seen any competitiveness and the play-offs have continued to attract the same old teams for the longest time. Also heavy on the toll is the lack of quality sides promoted from lower rungs of the Nairobi Basketball Association ( aptly known as NBA).
Basketball has also not been able to attract any major sponsor be it for the overall league or for some of the tournaments held across the country. While the efforts of its Marketing wing ( which coincidentally works on an ad hoc basis and is not fully empowered by the Federation). In fact one of the largest failings of the current team in office is the lack of commercial foretaste for the game’s development.

A lot of attention is played to the high school and universities leagues which are more or less sustained by extra-curricular funds paid by the students attending those institutions, so no plus for revenue for KBF. A lot of talent is wasted here and this could be moved to the clubs and teams playing at the provincial and national leagues.
Affiliations to international bodies such as AIBA, FIBA have not been taken advantage of and this has seen little or no investment in the local game.
Last year’s participation of the ladies team at the All-Africa Games was riddled with controversy after some players being dropped and others not being paid their allowances most of which had been released by the GoK. Parliamentary Committee on Sports is currently questioning the Maputo All-Africa Games Kenyan top brass officials on this and other controversies. 

Elections
With the upcoming elections, delegates will need to consider potential officials with the following;

  • Commercialisation – for the longest time, we have sung this song about sports not being an amateur thing anymore and the need to commercialise it. Be it through single-sourced sponsors or partnerships with leading corporates, any sport CANNOT and WILL NOT survive without added revenues. Coca-Cola Kenya has made entreaties through the Spriteball tournaments, work something out that will deliver a win-win for both brands.
  • Media appreciation – we have seen what the media can do to such sports disciplines as football, rugby and cricket locally. Though not fully exploited, there is marked difference and the games are all the better for it. Cultivate a healthy relationship with the media and you shall live to see the fruits. We have seen the Nigerian Basketball Federation games screened on DSTv, why can’t we have the same from Kenya next?
  • Full-time officials – no offense to the current officials but if they were full time officials running the sport, there would be more attention paid to it. The comforts of the other jobs make it impossible to deliver on your mandate.
  • Revamp the League – while there seems to be a semblance of a National League, the reality is far from it. If you look carefully, 80% of the teams are originally from Nairobi, with 1-2 from Mombasa and one maybe from Kisumu. With the country having 47 counties in the new disposition, change the lower rung leagues to have teams from at least half of these counties which would then qualify for the national league.
  • Better Use of Affiliation – it saddens to hear that one of African Basketball officials is a Kenyan yet we have not enjoyed much from the continental front. While it may not be his mandate to favour where he comes from, Kenyan officials can at least make an effort and challenge them to engage with the sport here.  Same goes for FIBA.

Another concern is the use of delegates’ method. This is one of Kenya’s and indeed many a sports bodies weakness in electing top officials. We all know of how the delegates are put up in some nice location and ‘gifts’ exchanged before the D-day when they go to rubber-stump the ‘chosen ones’. We hope this is not the case and that the will of the people who love and dedicate their efforts to the growth of the game.

{Disclaimer: While we may have named the top officials in this post, our task is not to abuse or seek to tarnish their person in any way. The critique is purely on their mandate for the game of basketball in Kenya}

And1 Live Street Basketball 2012 coming back to Kenya…

For what was a most successful tour in Africa last year, And1 Live Tour featuring some Street Basketball makes a comeback for a bigger and more intensive run across the continent. The Tour has been used by And1 merchandising company to promote the game of basketball for which this brand is heavily associated with.

Let’s do the Shuffle – And1 Live Tour 2011 Image by Jeff Amani

Under the theme ‘ No Borders, No Boundaries, All Ball‘ this year’s Tour starts in the city of Raleigh , North Carolina on 8th March making its first African stop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 15th April. Kenya has the priviledge of hosting it in 2 cities, Nairobi and Mombasa on 25th and 26th of April respectively.
As we said last year, this form of game provides Kenya Basketball Federation a perfect pitch and curtain-raiser for enhancing basketball’s growth within the urban folk in major Kenyan towns. Last year most of the top officials gave the Tour a miss, wonder what happens this year. Well, basketball fans didn’t disappoint and they came one and all to cheer this entertaining form of the game.
 We shall track the updates and post them as they come.

November 2011 – Sporting Bonanza

New month, new challenges, new opportunities. Yes, Kenyan sports scene is experiencing good things for this 2nd last month of the year 2011.

Safaricom 7s 

Rugby
And to start us off is one of Kenya’s premiere events the Safari 7s which saw it changed from the usual mid-year period to November so as to align with the IRB 7s circuit which starts end of November 25-26th in Australia. Riding on the back of a new management team as well as loaded sponsorship deals, it will be a defining season for the Kenyan team which seeks to regain its touch as one of the best playing units outside traditional rugby powerhouses. 3-5th of November make a date with Kenyan team as it seeks to start 2011-12 season on winning note.

Football
After missing 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Kenya starts her journey for the FIFA World Cup to be held in Brazil in 2014. This is against a backdrop of major changes in the sport mainly the Kenya Football elections which brought in new office bearers and new body Football Kenya Association. The national team also got one of its former handlers, Francis Kimanzi ( currently managing KPL side Sofapaka). 11th November make a date with Harambee Stars as they starts this arduous journey.
On the regional front, CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup starts on 24th November to 9th December 2011. This has Cup has eluded the national team for the last 9 years and this could be a nice way to warm the boys up for World Cup qualifiers and also rise up FIFA Rankings.
At a local level though the Kenya Premier League comes to its final leg as teams seek to represent Kenya in continental challenges. It has been another competitive year for the SuperSport-sponsored league which has enjoyed increased interest from local football fans and TV alike.

Volleyball
The Kenyan women’s team is back in Japan to represent Africa in the FIVB Women’s World Cup. Since it is not their first outing, we are hoping the ladies can finally muster some steel and win a game or two to place Africa’s representative at a better place. Being the highest ranked women’s team from Africa on the FIVB World Rankings ( currently at 15th place), it will not be an easy ride brushing with top sides such as Brazil and Germany.

Basketball

Kenyan Basketballimage courtesy of  www.nation.co.ke

The Kenya Basketball Federation Premier Leagues come to an end. This season has seen some resuscitation of sorts with the #FridayNightBasketball building a good fan base which is seeing some basketball streaming back to the Nyayo National Basketball gym. The Friday games have organised courtesy of Kenya Basketball Federation, CodeRed DJs – an entertainment outfit which is making entreaties into sports events management and has some sponsorship from GM Kenya. Unconfirmed reports intimate Zuku has developed some interest in screening the games on its ZukuTV.
Catch these games in every weekend culminating with the Finals last week of November or early December. In those news, those of you who love the NBA are surely hoping the lock-out can be quickly resolved for what looks a torrid season for this league which is any basket-baller’s dream.

Athletics

New York Marathon 2010image courtesy of AP

The World Marathon Majors continues on with New York Marathon scheduled for 6th November at “The Big Apple”. With Kenyan marathoners enjoying one of their best seasons so far, it will be good to see who runs with this one. Last year’s second placed, Emmanuel Mutai starts as favourite for the men’s race but looking at the retinue and pedigree of Kenyan runners and Ethiopians chasing hard, it will be anyone’s day. In the women’s version, Mary Keitany will be hoping to add another WMM title after taking the London Marathon earlier this year.

Motor-Rallying
What is slowly becoming a laid-back and rallying relic in this part of the world, the East Africa Safari Classic Rally is back after one-year break. Featuring former world champions in motor rallying and cars that won the races back in the day, the rally will drive through parts of the East African states of Kenya and Tanzania (click this for East Africa Safari Rally Route map).
Some of the expected drivers include former winners of the earlier version include Bjorn Waldegaard, Ian Duncan, among others. The Rally starts on 19th November at the Sarova Whitesands finishing at the same venue on the 28th. For you who loves adventure and the beauty of the savannah, make time to trail these rally enthusiasts.

Whichever sport tickles your fancy, enjoy this and other sporting bonanzas from in and around the country. Cheer your favourite individual, team or country as the year rolls out another month.

Kenya Basketball dribbles Friday Games as Celebrities light up Basketball Night

Last weekend at the Nyayo National Stadium – Basketball Gym, Nairobians were treated to another of the Friday Basketball Games that Kenya Basketball Federation has been holding since the 2011 season started. Working with the Code Red DJ – under its CodeRed Basketball tag and majorly assisted by one Peter Kiganya, the games had the added flavour of a curtain-raiser game of what was billed as the Celebrities v/s Referees game; who included Jalang’o, Big Ted, DJ Stylez, Shaffie Weru,Nonini, Daddy Owen among others up against an old but hard-fighting REFEREES team that included Juma Kent, David Maina, Kennedy Banda, Erick Omondi, Coach Goro and some experienced coaches in the Premier League. This particular game against the referees turned out to being the ‘main thrill’ of the night, even though there was the real All-Star game which had KBF’s Premier League’s best players pitted against each other in a East-West version of the more established NBA league in the US. Before all this had other curtain-raiser activities which included the shooting, dances and other forms of entertainment to keep the crowd on its feet on a chilly Friday evening. Strictly speaking though, if the numbers from the event are anything to go by, KBF is finally finding its feet on a situation that had seen die-hard basketball fans seek alternative forms of entertainment. Filling in a gymnasium on a typical weekend has been a real struggle for the basketball officials. This season, though after consulting with entertainment specialists Code Red DJs who’s business face is one Allan Muigai (aka DJ Stylez), along with Protel Entertainment as well as Sports Stadia which manages the Nyayo National Stadium; the Friday fixtures have started changing the face of the game. Initially the games had major clubs such as Co-op Bank, KCB Lions, Ulinzi Warriors among the top basketball sides playing amongst themselves. Then in June the And1 detour into Nairobi-Kenya (thanks to Coca-Cola Kenya and GM Kenya), the spark that needed to light the game again happened and this has worked to the organisers’ advantage. Jumping into the bandwagon, media new-kid-on-the-block, One FM also saw an opportunity to appeal to its target market. Friday’s second game played in two halves ended in favor of the Referees who won 30-28 leading a close 17-16 and 13-12 in both. The game did not end without drama as expected. Big Tedd went around celebrating a basket that he had buried for close to a minute sending the crowd into an uproar while ‘Misee Jalang’o Mwenyewe’ kept the crowd on its toes constantly chasing after the ball from the opponents and making calls for passes like his team mates were not seeing him in the court. Their opponents had their share of brilliance mostly from David ‘Maish’ Maina who was outstanding during the entire game. Maina, a former player at KPA, and currently the head coach of the USIU Tigers tore his opponents with passes and shots that settled the game which had threatened to extend to overtime. Jalang’o and Big Tedd contributed two points each to their loss while Victor Okello bagged 8 points for the Referees. Earlier the Ladies East Side that was packed with stars like Shani Silalei and Irene Makori thrashed the West Side 68 -80. They won all but the first quarter at 13-13, 21-20, 19-6 and 14-8. Irene Makori netted 9 points for the winners. The final game that pitted the men lacked the sparks the fans expected to see from it. The West side boasting of Tiberius Menya and Dan Okwiri narrowly beat the East Side led by David Ogolla and Ligare Griffins 88-87 to carry home the winners’ trophy while the MVP award went to Arou Ramadhan Chan of the West side. For a Nairobi crowd which will almost always fall for the latest hype, the Friday Basketball games are slowly becoming alternative form of entertainment. It is a step in the right direction though not all is done. Just not yet…

Our views from the Friday games have our points as follows;

  • Crowd involvement – a quick look at the crowd shows most of them are newly converted basketball fans. This is the reason most left after the curtain-raiser game of CELEBRITIES v/s REFEREES. It is also the reason most of those left couldn’t identify with the real basketball players once they came out to play. Introduce the players, hype and domesticate the crowd to know their true basketball heroes. Remember how the crowd could identify with And1 stars?
  • Time – this has to be managed better if you are to keep the fans at the gym till whatever time you may need for them to leave. Spread the entertainment bits; keep reminding fans what is coming up and the main highlight of the evening. The main game of the night starting at 2300hours??? Most people at the Nyayo gym were groping in the dark of what’s next. The celebrities even left after their game (guess they still had to run to other engagements to earn their $$$ maybe…). Same thing to the KBF officials, sad!
  • Decor/Ambience – though much of this lies with the Sports Stadia Management Board, the Nyayo Basketball gym is in need of a fresh coat of paint and warmer, striking colours. It may also need some refurbishment for its cushioned walls, rims and the lighting. The ambience of a sporting event makes a whole difference if you’re hoping to wow a crowd of such proportions. It will also add more appeal to media houses that need more colour to their sports editorial stories.
  • Media – some of the media houses either avoided the whole event for reasons best known to them or they feigned commitment as has been the story with most Kenyan media houses with regards to sports. Until SuperSport or some other international media house starts featuring the games, they’re still relegated to some weekly magazine programme which edits it so much it ends up being a speck of no use. Media houses in Kenya have a peculiar sports editorial policy so you might need to work harder to entice them there.
  • Premier League pitch – as is happening with the Kenyan football scene, you need to get the clubs to have their own distinct identity. Either consult branding experts or the respective team managers to get teams to have a followership of their own. Except for the die-hard fans, most of the fans in that gym can’t distinguish which team or who Ulinzi Warriors, Tobias Onyango or Ancette Wafula or Lomboritz are.
  • Consistency – the performance, games and style of play from the main teams needs to be at a better level. You cannot build such hype about the game, show off the skills on individual skits about dribbling, dunking or shooting then give me a below-par game. It will serve no purpose at all in the efforts of getting back that ardent basketball or sports fan.
  • Corporate sponsorship– it is hard pitching to Kenyan corporate for sports events. Keep hope alive and you could see a change in attitude. A change in attitude too is needed at the top of KBF for officials to see the commercial sense of the game. We’ve sung this tune for too long. Even with its challenges football is now millions of shillings ahead of you…Anyway you can link the Friday games with the ongoing Spriteball talent search by next month?

Address these challenges are you’re on to a good thing. Mark your calendars people, every First Friday of the Month, make a date with Kenya’s basketball fraternity at the Nyayo National Stadium Basketball Gymnasium! Check some earlier posts on the Friday Basketball Games by KenyaHoops, MichezoAfrika and KenyaBuzz . Additional Reporting by Noel Robert

And1 Kenya Tour – Did it Live Up to the Hype?

Saturday 11th June and some of us sporting buffs in the country had one too many sporting events to attend but one that stood out for us was the and1 SpriteBall Kenya Tour which was ostensibly sponsored by Coca-Cola’s Sprite brand. Read on for a quick recount of events happening on the day;
a) Ticketing and Gate Management – an online process through www.tixpress.com was activated a few days to the event to enable advance booking to the event. It was a smart move but that’s where it ends. On arrival at the venue, no communication was made on how one was to confirm having made this advance booking. Being tossed around and having a bit of a miff with security personnel who were equally irritating made for poor gate management. No clear cut distinction too was made on the VIP booking (costing KShs.500) or regular ones (at KShs.200).

b) Security – Given that Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League games were still on, though scheduled for early starts; the organisers had to wait till 4.30p.m. to secure the venue ( managed by Sports Stadia Management Board AND NOT KBF as most people think…). There was a bomb sweep ( yeah we had Americans in the building) and this caused more inconveniences to sporting fans who had streamed in as early as 12 noon. Luckily the crowd was well-mannered and no scenes of commotion was seen thus far. There were 2 courts, the handball court (outdoor) which had screens and a basketball hoop which later served as the scene for the BlakeGriffin – Dunk-over-a-Car (The Chevrolet was donated by GM).
Here’s the Dunk thanks to *mastabonk;



The other court was the Nyayo Gym proper (indoor) where the exhibition game between and1 players and Kenya-Select and much of the action was to take place.
However on allowing the crowd into the courts, there were serious security lapses. First the crowd was too big for the Nyayo Gym allowing people to sit right next to the playing court a few inches off. There were people hanging around the back of each hoop and this was also of concern given the players’ getting their game on and the adrenalin kicking as the game went on. No serious injuries occurred (thankfully).
This easy access of the crowd though meant security personnel had problems trying to control the fans once the action started. Over-excited fans, groupies and some wannabe-photographers were all over the court each time a player from either and1 or Kenya select made a great play. At half-time it took more than 10 min to clear the court. By the end of the game when one of the Kenya-Select point guards outplayed an and1 guard, the crowd went berserk and even by the final buzzer fans were either throwing empty plastic soda bottles or running into the court like headless chicken.

c) Venue– as earlier reported, the venue(s) for the games were the handball and basketball courts both of which are managed by the SSMB. With the clouds hanging heavily before the start of the games, most of the people in the crowd didn’t take much chances and ended up in the Gym.
The lighting was good save for the fact that there were no effects thus making some boring ambience. 2 large screens had been positioned opposite each other; at the VIP side and directly opposite it. This was showing the action outside (at the handball court) and also running promotional ads for the DJ Unit and Sprite’s too.
The ancient scoreboard that has been at the Gym since 1987 was our source of information as the game progressed but since KBF or SSMB have never found it urgent to bring it down and modernise the whole thing, most people were agonised trying to see the scores.( The timer on the board usually has a problem differentiating between 3 & 8 min and this had the game’s MC in problems each time the clock was running out).
More cause for embarrassment was to come once the skies opened up and the rains pounded Nairobi, the roof at Nyayo Gym started leaking and the game had to be stopped as the MC saved the situation placing his treasured white towel on the court. 

d) Sponsors Overload – it was a great job for Coca-Cola through Sprite to agree to sponsor the event. In fact the original and1live Tour was not even supposed to head to East Africa but guess some strings were pulled and we got our share of the action. With every ticket purchase came 2 free half-litre sodas or 2 Dasani water 300 ml bottles, fair enough! But these bottles turned out to be anathema once the crowd got excited. Enough litter made its way onto the court causing much eyesore to the game.
There were banners too pronouncing the sponsor’s cause , all good but methinks its time too that Kenyan companies started investing in digital platforms for the ads. More screens and the lighting in the court would have longer lasting impression than the now usual and ugly banners which are overdone.
We’re also wondering if this association with the Kenyan basketball game will continue or shall it be a once-hot-now-cold relationship with KBF? True there is lots of ground to be covered by the authorities but you can cut them some slack for now…

e) And1 v/s Kenya Select :- once the exhibition game started, the and1 team seemed to be taking off with the game only for the Kenyan players to start settling in and making impressive plays and almost answering their critics with 3-pointers and alley-ups just like the best of them. The only problem is that much of the game now turned to more of showmanship and no better structured moves. Not that much of the crowd cared anyway, some of us love a more competitive game even if its streetball.
Without a doubt, Kenyans can make the cut for some of the best teams but we do not have the structures to nurture this talent and channel it to the more lucrative leagues in Europe and America. One of the and1 players was originally from Uganda and we also know of Hasheem Thabeet playing in the NBA, how come Kenya can’t afford a player even in the college basketball teams? Over to you KBF!

Well, when all is said and done, it was a nice break from the lacklustre games that occasion the KBF Premier League. KBF should take up this chance and spice up things for fans to come back week-on-week. Some fan was heard saying that if KBF officials cannot handle the game then they should leave it to such organisers and corporate firms to make it happen. It is true that KBF has not made any commercial sense to most corporate firms, well this can be a start.
(Sports) event organisers also take note, NEVER ask a crowd to show up at a certain time only for your arrangements NOT to be up and running. Luck was on your side that this was a manageable crowd and there were no reported scenes of violence or otherwise. Other sporting disciplines will not be so patient. Also if you have to host a foreign team, all those security checks can be done well in advance and you shall save us all the hussle.

{Thanks for Twitpics to @kenyanpoet & @itsbuddhablaze, we shall be posting the images up soon}

IN OTHER NEWS:
NBA Playoffs ended early this morning or late evening depending on which time-zone you live in. Dallas Mavericks ended up scorching Miami Heat 4-2 in a best of 7 series and denying the fancied Big 3 of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh their first ever championship rings. However this accorded Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Peta Stojakovic their first rings each of these long-time playing stars.

And1 Streetball in Nairobi 11th June 2011 – Where will you be?

The buzz has been coming and its great from where we stand. And1 Streetball will be landing on this side of the continent, thanks in part to the main sponsors Coca-Cola EA through their flagship brand Sprite.
This version of the game though is more exciting and skills-oriented. It is meant to literally take basketball to the streets and achieve greater appreciation of what can be an intense and energy-driven game.

And1 -image courtesy of www.jucyafrica.com

This maybe the shot that the Kenyan basketball game needs after tottering to the brink of obscurity. Save for the occasional play-offs spike and the regional challenge, most of the games are poorly attended and lack the spark. The college league which had also become a crowd-puller has also staggered to more of a routine and formality more than a skills-hunt for local clubs.
Kenya Basketball Federation which has endorsed this trip, we hope you shall be able to pick the shells and throw the challenge to the major corporates and supporting parties and maybe you can lure the fans back into the gymnasiums and basketball courts.
Here are the other sources reporting on the And1 Streetball Kenyan trip; AllOneBasketballSchool, IzVipi.com and MichezoAfrika

11th June people mark your calendar !

SIDENOTE:
Wonder what happened to the 3-on-3 Weekend Challenge which was a major crowd puller in Nairobi in the 1990s and early 2000s. The then entreprenuer one Patrick Musimba  (of Musimba Investments) seems to have moved to bigger things in golf and telecommunications. We do hope KBF officials can have a session with him, he had some great stuff going. Where are all you sports entrepreneurs? (OK, that’s after KBF sorting out the lacklustre performance and see the sense in commercialising the game).

And1 Streetball Coming to Kenya…

Yes, you had it right. The basketball fraternity is to welcome one of the world’s leading promoters of the game albeit the more exciting and dramatic side of the game. And1 – a sports apparel & shoe company for top basketballer players both in the NBA (e.g. Stephon Marbury) and lower rung versions has been a promoter of Streetball since 1998 and has conducted successful tours in other parts of the world.Image courtesy of and1 live.com

As part of a growing interest in taping into the African continent talent, the promoters have made a deliberate step into Africa and has already landed in South Africa and though initially not in the plans, Kenya and Rwanda shall be part of the tour 1st and 2nd week of June (Source: http://www.allonebasketballschool.com/)
Sources tell us Coca-Cola Kenya is hoping to ensure the trip is a success through its Sprite brand which has for long been associated with basketball. The event shall also be in conjunction with ALSA Basketball and sanctioned and endorsed by Kenya Basketball Federation.
1st week of June , people, mark your calendars!
Additional info can be found on www.and1live.com

What will save the ailing Kenyan Basketball scene?

Kenya is easily one of the best sporting nations in the continent. But some of the disciplines are clearly putting the nation to shame. Coming as it from foreign assignments, it’s a bit disheartening given that there is quite some interest for some of the sporting disciplines, only for the squabbles, demotivating practices to chase away any interested parties – be they youth talent or corporate organisations.
Patriotism v/s Exploitation
Kenya Basketball Federation, led by none other than Mr. Paul Otula. What is happening in Rwanda? Having gone for the All-African Games qualifiers, the teams (both men and women) were seen to be likely to qualify for the continental games to be held in September this year in Maputo, Mozambique.
Before leaving there was a statement made that the national teams training would not be entitled to daily allowances which are usually mandatory for players for engaging their services. For most of these players, there are no regular sources of income and such a declaration would be clearly break the morale of the team.
Getting to Rwanda and the teams do not have official kit for training and have to borrow from their hosts. Also there is no team doctor ( totally suicidal given the physical toll that the game takes on players). All over sudden all hell breaks lose and the team captains ( Ben Oluoch and Angela Luchivya) are handed an indefinite ban for allegedly pushing internal revolt and boycott from the players. From unconfirmed sources, one of the reason was that the players were getting a daily allowance of KShs.500 ( around $6.25). Even if its is patriotism, this is a pittance for national duty. Then follows a unilateral withdrawal of the Federation from the qualifiers as a way of seeking to cover the underlying issues instead of addressing them ( though the Kenya National Sports Council had to intervene and ask the teams to continue playing).
What is wrong with these sports officials? If you had no funds going into national camp, it wouldn’t hurt to appeal for funds from the locals. It would also be better to clearly outline the trip’s difficulties in good time in case any player wants to withdraw their participation. Clearly it’s not too much to ask, but when shall you take the game to another level?

Co-op Bank v/s KCB Lions 2010, photo courtesy of www.michezoafrika.com

Disgraced Play-offs
If the end of the season was anything to go by, we are not entirely suprised by the happenings in Rwanda. The men’s playoff finals were a sham. Game 3 had to be abruptly stopped with the claim that one of the team’s fans (KCB Lions) were going to disrupt the game and cause physical harm to referees officiating the game. Some of the players from the two teams ( the other was regular play-off contenders Co-op Bank) are in the national team of course, this time representing national interest.

But for a Federation not able to organise its own house, it is not for the Commissioner of Sports to call them to order. There have been claims of maintaining the status quo, but even then, there is nothing much to show. How many basketball courts have they been able to build? How many teams are currently playing in the national and formerly provincial leagues? Does the Federation have a plan of what they want the game to be now, in 1 year, 5 years? Having a senior FIBA official from the continental body ( by the name of Maurice Aluanga who was once KBF Chair), what synergies has the Federation sought to build the local game?

Someone needs blow the whistle on this situation before we lose the game and it becomes a by-gone era. Anyone courageous enough to call it as it is?
You can follow the local basketball scene here, www.kenyahoops.wordpress.com 

Can Kenyan Basketball stop scoring in its own backyard?

This weekend, two Kenyan clubs managed to win the men’s and women’s Zone V basketball championships. Co-op Bank -men and the Eagle Wings  in the women’s division are looking to conquer Africa for continental honours.  This is all well and good. But coming out the embarrassment that was the under-18 women’s championships in Egypt due to age-cheating, something is amiss.
For sometime now, the local game has been under-performing due to the Kenya Basketball Federation’s lack of drive to market the sport and see its potential in commercial interests. While other sporting disciplines such as football, rugby and athletics continue attracting sponsors, the game has not been able to seize the opportunities. While we are informed that there some efforts in the works from a team led by the Marketing team led by a lady and former player Cynthia Mumbo, a lot needs to be cultivated among the officials, media and concerned parties to ensure the game becomes a major force to reckon with.
The country needs to work with continental partners who can help improve our technical part since we shall be able to share notes with the countries from the region – Angola, Senegal, Nigeria come to mind. Spriteball Tournaments while always welcome should work to the Federation’s favour and be able to nurture and expose talent to the best in the game. This is only possible if the Federations co-opts the corporate firms in not just sponsoring the one-off tournaments but have structured programmes from the high school level, colleges all the way to the club levels.
FIBA the world governing body has an open-door policy that should allow the local federation to bloom and realise its potential. There is also need to cultivate a more transparent office from the current officials who have not been able to endear to their continental partners. Tragedy is the fact that heading the Zone V of  the continental body is our very own Eng. Morris Aluanga – so much potential but little action since taking office for the local game.
Other News:

(Pau GasolImage courtesy of 2010 FIBA World Championships promo – Giants Get Together)



The FIBA World Championships starts in 5 days in the Turkish capital of Ankara and other cities in Turkey. The back-drop though is dominated by the USA team who’s off-season trading consisted of some outrageous moves by free agents, Lebron James among others. How susceptible the side will be given the level of competition seen in previous championships means the ‘ Dream Team’ shall not have easy passage again. Shall African representatives ; Angola, Cote de Ivoire and Tunisia give a good account of the continent? The tournament starts on 28th August.

Sprite Slam Tour : Basketball in Kenya at Crossroads

After milking the best attention (and revenues of course), Coca-Cola Kenya shall once again engage in another of their brands this time taking a sport which is not enjoying the best of times – Basketball.

While its peers in football, rugby and athletics seem to be attracting monies and the cherry chips of the corporate world, basketball has become a pedestrian sport at its best. A visit to the games at the Nyayo Gymnasium (which has since been closed to pave way for African Athletics Championships happening July 28-August 1, why they need to close the gym you wonder !) ends up being a real ‘labour of love’.

The flavour of the game seen in other leagues such as would compare with the Angolan or West African ones or semi-professional European or basketball premiere league of the NBA has since been lost. Even the annual 3-on-3 tournaments which used to attract sizeable crowds have since disappeared as the interested parties sought solace in other sports.
From our insider on the game, there are some developments in the works which  may curtail this but till then, Coca-Cola shall be holding forte with its 2nd consecutive tournament in the SpriteSlam tournament. The first round shall be at the Jomo Kenyatta Grounds in Kisumu 31st July-1st August with the final leg culminating in a basketball tournament at the Railways Grounds on Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi.

Let’s hope there shall be synergies drawn by both Kenya Basketball Federation and its corporate sponsors this one being Sprite – Coca-Cola Kenya.  
(Image courtesy of Nation Media Group. www.nationmedia.com)

Basketball Briefs:

After creating a buzz with his free agency, Lebron James fell for Miami and its beautiful weather (maybe) deciding to play for the Heat in the NBA. While it seems like the best thing for the Miami franchise, I’m reminded of the fact that most of the greats from MJ, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and most of the legends defied their commercial interests to stick with one team(franchise) for the longest time. Not being a naysayer but I don’t see King James earning any championship ring soon. See some insights on his move here.