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Can Cantonment defend trophy?

As the clock ticks for season-2 of Community Dunks, basketballghana.com, explore the chances of the eight participating teams and the first on the bill is defending champions Cantonment as we find out if Coach Daniel Sowah’s charges can defend the trophy they won last year.

It was a cleave on performance for the Cantonment community who had players from Labone, Osu and Cantonment environs forming the core of players that featured in the maiden edition at the El-Wak stadium.

They looked liked the more complete team heading into the championship in 2009 at a time that star shooting forward Raymond Maha and Bobby Agodo were at their best during pre-season friendlies and an exciting array of players who have their team work and chemistry really working for them.

They also got back to their defensive savoir-faire ways and with some patent lockdown defense; it was obvious they were going to be the team to beat.

But after the group stages in the competition, one least expected Cantonment to make it into the finals judging from their previous matches- quite clearly whipping their pre-tournament favourite tag under the wisp.

In a group that comprised Tema, Ridge, Legon and Nima (now Kawukudi CYCC), they managed a third place finish in the group phase after they managed a fairly 2 wins and 2 defeats.

That was a fair achievement spanning from the fact that no team in that group went unbeaten and so rightly no one could attempt to say all five teams had equal strength.

But with a second preliminary round looming, it was imperative they got their spot on and their tactics right since there wouldn’t have been any room for complacency.

You win or decide otherwise and lose the plot in the keenly contested championship!

Coach Daniel Sowah’s dug-out talks seem to have done the trick and when they started the knockout phase, they looked a totally transformed side, with three wins and a defeat in the second phase showed for their effort.  

That feat landed them in the semi-final stage where they accounted for Kaneshie 43-39 in a highly competitive game.

Kaneshie had looked awesome in the run up to that cliff hanger because they had topped their group which had highly fancied Dansoman, Ashaiman, James Town and Sakumono in their ranks.

So gradually the dream was on course and when it was concluded they were up against one of the most feared side in the competition, Ridge, the battle lines had been drawn with both coaches eager to put their expertise at the disposal of their respective communities.

And what a match it lived up to be! The atmosphere was unique and the players on the court exhibited sublime piece of dexterity and character to mark an incredible end to a hugely patronized 13-weeks long championship.

Cantonment triumphed 52-44 on the final day to send their home fans jubilating deep into the night.

Once again the defending champions have been presented with another opportunity to crack it and etched their name in gold plate.

Coach Sowah won’t have the pleasure of having most of the players who lifted the trophy last season, because they fall above the age band.

Consequently, best player of last season’s championship Raymond Maha, together with other brilliant players like Bobby Agodo, Nii Koi Shadrack and Gilbert Mensah have all been ruled out of the one-month championship at the University of Ghana basketball court.

So that undoubtedly leaves the acid-tongue coach with the only option of fielding a completely new squad for the 2010 edition of the competition. May be that should account for his claims of not eyeing the ultimate title.

‘You may be shocked to hear this but I don’t have an eye on winning the title. I’m only participating for the respect I’ve for this noble championship’. Sowah said

‘I’ve a young team who are now getting their confidence spot on and so might take a little time for them to jell at a championship side. But does not mean we’ll be overawed by the occasion. We’ll take our chances as and when they comes.’

Pundits say coach Sowah’s comment is a ploy to sway attention and pressure on his young squad this season.

Both Cantonment and Kawukudi CYCC have been paired in the same group for the second year running and as they cross path again, it remains to be seen who will have the last laugh this time around. It will be a matter of revenge or maintaining dominance following the clash last term.

Teshie Nungua are new comers and so might be difficult to do a thorough soul searching on their prospect but basketball players from that part of the nation’s surburb have proven in the past they’ve huge talents and can cause a scare on a good day.

Only two teams qualify to the semi-final stage from the two groups and so that will be motivating factor for all teams.

Cantonment should be able to scrape through to the knockout-phase and despite the fact they won’t have most of their former stars available, they could still be counted as one of the huge favourite for the title.

Our bet: 8/10 to win the championship for the second time in a row.

Community Dunks 2010 is an initiate of Rite Multimedia with support from Indomie Noodles and begins from Saturday September 11, 2010 (and every other Saturday from 3-8pm) at the University of Ghana basketball court.

By: Patrick Akoto

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