Basketballghana.com editor, Patrick Akoto, explores the chances of the various schools in the 2009 Eastern Regional Sprite Ball Championship which kicks start in Koforidua on Saturday October 17.
With over twenty (20) schools in both the male and female category confirming their involvement in the competition, the stage is now set for an enthralling road to the grand finale in Accra next two months.
Defending champion Suhum Secondary Technical School (Sutesco), St Peters Senior High (Peters), Nkawkaw Senior High (Nkwasec), Koforidua Secondary Technical School, St Paul’s Technical School located at Kukurantumi, Aburi Girls Senior High, Abuakwa State College (Abusco), Oda Senior High (Odasco), Akosombo International School (AIS) and first runner up at the tournament last season Pope Johns’ Senior High (Pojoss) amongst others have inked their name to take part in the most prestigious and swankiest basketball tournament in Ghana.
The various schools have been trimming the rough edges ahead of a thrilling and nerve-racking contest at the premises of Koforidua Secondary Technical School.
Checks by basketballghana indicate that most of the schools have been engaging themselves in series of low profile friendlies as the race to grab one of the six tickets available in both the male and female category gathers momentum or reaches fever pitch.
The court has been duly prepared with great artisan craft to serve as an epitome for a gruelling encounter.
The competition is expected to be unyielding and zealously contested with plenty of goals likely to be fluffy after some team showed frailty in defence last year.
Suhum Secondary Technical School made history by becoming the first school in the region to annex the trophy in the male category in their debut season.
The school which is located in the commercial town of the Suhum Kraboa- Coaltar district is about thirty minutes drive to the capital, Koforidua.
The side is aware of the enormity of the task ahead as they aim to retain the Eastern Regional trophy they won last year. They will face stiff competition from other schools in the region and their ability to hold their heads high will prove consequential to their title ambitions.
Another side which has the ability to unseat Sutesco is the Koforidua Effiduase based Pope John’s Senior High School. The school has rich a history which can capitulate the imaginations of people and their participation in the competition will be their second in a row. The side showed great tenacity and passion to place second in the Sprite ball championship last year and they will be aiming to go a step further.
On the other side of the divide is Akosombo International School who will prove very difficult to crack. They exhibited great potential last year and even though they could not win any medal last year, unlike their female counterpart, they have shown their ability to do well on a good day and therefore I won’t count them out of the race.
Meanwhile any side that take St Peters Senior High School for granted do so at their own peril. They placed third last year and played in the grand finale in Accra though they failed to glitter but they will be serious contenders this year.
The female team of Akosombo International School won the tournament last year in their category after a riveting performance but they will be without some influential players for this year’s challenge. I still fancy them to lift the trophy for the second time even though I reckon Oda Senior High who placed second in the competition in 2008 will give them a good run for their money. New entrant Aburi Girls Senior High will have the first bite of the cherry this year after they confirmed their participation in the tournament and I expects them to have a goal at the trophy.
Oda Senior High male team were there last year and did their best, but obviously their best wasn’t enough after they failed to qualify for the grand finale in the nation’s capital. They showed glimpses of brilliance and determination and that was a clear indication they will be no pushovers this time around. Their female counterpart won silver at the tournament in 2008 and they will be eager to emulate the shining example of their compatriots. I tip them as the outsiders to win a medal this year.
Some schools shine on their debut season and this is exactly what am hoping will be the case when St Paul’s Secondary Technical School take part in the tournament for the first time at Koforidua on Saturday. The Kukurantumi based side according our sources have won all their friendly matches in the prelude to the Sprite Ball Championship and look good for a great show in their maiden appearance in the competition. I see them as one of the dark horses of this year’s competition and should be watched out.
Abuakwa State College is also taken part for the first time and cannot be underestimated. They are obviously no green horns in basketball and will be tough customers.
I want to take the opportunity to wish all the schools the very best of luck and success.
May the spirit of fair play be the chief cornerstone of an exciting competition.
Don’t forget the grand finale takes place at the El-Wak Stadium in Accra on December 19th and 20th.
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Patrick Kwame Akoto / basketballghana.com/ Ghana