By Dann O’were
For the few weeks he played in the Premier League, Peter Kiganya showed why he remains the country’s best ‘export’ in years. Before he flew to Chile last month for a professional stint, the former KPA and Abilene Christine University forward was Sprite Stormers most dependable player. It was no wonder that Stormers’ only loss (67-61) to Coast Youth Club in Mombasa was suffered when he did not show up at the Makande Welfare Gymnasium, where the match was played.
Coach Dennis “Tino” Oketch concedes that his departure to Chile has left the team’s title ambitions in disarray. It proved so in their first game without him. Stormers struggled before beating University of Nairobi “Terrorists” 61-56. The campus lads stretched them to the limit even with 0:25 seconds left. They hanged on 56-58. Everybody concedes that it will not be easy for the team to do well without him.
They must work hard. Oketch conceded that his departure left a big hole in the team. “We will need to adjust without him. The task will be difficult,” said Oketch, who is handling the team for the first time. Guard Musa Odari was equally concerned. “The void he left is huge, but we will soldier on without him and see how it goes,” he said. Stormers played eight matches, winning seven and losing one. It started with a 93-90 win over defending champions Ulinzi Warriors. The machine continued to grind with devastating results. They hit Nakuru Club 93-87, crushed Postbank 85-65, whipped Co-operative Bank of Kenya 87-75, at one time leading with as many as 35 points.
It did not end there as they blew United States International university (USIU) 101-86 and returned a week later to torch Terrorists 104-53.
The team was staggering and they were the talk of town. He marked the opponents best players, shutting them out of the game completely. He disrupted their tempo and was doing it easily. When he left for USA nearly 10 years ago from Kenya Christian Industrial Training Institute through the efforts of coach Tony Mauldin, who had seen his talent at KPA, no one thought Kiganya would be the perfect player he is now.
At Abilene in 2000, he led the team’s scoring in 22 out of 26 games played. He did that in rebounding too where he led in 17 matches. In 1999, he shot 41 points in a 108-103 loss to Central Oklahoma. This was the fourth highest single game total in the schools’ history. After Abilene, he left for Chile where he played in the biggest league in the South American city featuring for Espanyol (two years) and Liceo Mixto (one year). He said that Kenya should have sent a team to the Masculine Championships in Algiers, Algeria, this month.
He decried the inability by Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) to take the national men’s side to the continental championships, saying it was the only way forward for Kenyan basketball. “It’s unfortunate that KBF are unable to enter a team to this year’s show despite the fact that it was a direct route to Algiers,” he said. “It does not augur well for the promotion of the game in the country,” he said.
He revealed that there are many players currently performing well in various US colleges who are ready to play for Kenya if called upon.
He named them as Andrew Otaro, Mike Obudho, Alex Aluga, James Omondi, Dan Omusinde and Moses Ogonda.They are based in Texas.
With Zone Five powerhouse Egypt already qualified due to their position in the last event in Cairo, there was no stopping Kenya. He said Kenya does not benefit from playing in the regional events and instead should focus on the continental championships. Their last show was in 1993 in Nairobi.