Kenya Morans on Saturday hit arch-rivals South Sudan 74-68 in their much-anticipated the 2021 Fiba Afro-basketball pre-qualifiers at Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium.
Kenya will now advance to the next phase of the qualifiers after finishing unbeaten in the tournament played in a round-robin format.
The Morans will join giants Senegal, Angola and Mozambique in pool B of the qualifiers with the top three all but guaranteed of a place in the championships set for 2021.
The kick off of the match had been delayed for over an two owing to crowd trouble.
This was after a mammoth crowd turned up for the match and forced their way into the venue.
KBF chairman Paul Otula had earlier ordered that the gates be locked after it was apparent that there was no more space to accommodate the droves of people who had made their way into the facility.
But the fans dodged the security personnel and broke the rear gate allowing all and sundry to flock in filling every s[pace including the playing court against the Fiba rules. The rules require that fans do not access the perimeter wall of the playing court.
Both the Kenya Morans and the South Sudan teams left the venue for their respective hotels briefly before returning for the showdown.
“We schemed for them, and told the players to leave for me the job because I know the terrain. We had to spoil their plan which we did very well and contained them,” an ecstatic Kenya coach Cliffe Owuor said after the match.
Morans captain Griffin Ligare, who exploded in the fourth quarter with a flurry of 3s and near-perfect free throws, scored a game-high 26 points.
Morans put up a brilliant display to scuttle South Sudan’s starts Tiny Puot and Makuel Mambo who scored 10 and 15 points respectively in the highly charged encounter.
Kenya’s France-based Robert Nyakundi (18) and Tunisia-based Bush Wamukota (13) and Ligare proved quite a handful for the lanky South Sudanese lads at the packed Nyayo Stadium.
Morans led 25-19 in the first quarter but the South Sudanese rallied to go for the break leading 30-29.
Kenya would then stretch their lead to 38-32, before moving further ahead to 44-35. The visitors then clawed their way back into the match with a late Pout three, but Kenya again moved into the fourth 52-46.
Ligare then took matters into his own hands when the South Sudanese threatened to walk away with the sole ticket from this event with a late surge.