It is widely believed that you never get a second chance to make a first good impression. But as far as the maiden edition of the Ashanti Regional Indomie Under-15 basketball championship is concerned, first impression is almost a peripheral nature.
The one-day event at the Kumasi Anglican Senior High School, gathered seven teams, split into two group with the first two teams advancing to the knockout phase.
Many were skeptical about the quality of play expected from the youngsters- and rightly so because it was the first time the competition was being held in the Garden City and you expect few doubting Thomases to press the panic button.
Group A featured Kwadaso, Buokrom and Asem Royals while group B had Asokwa, Kofrom Lakers, Supreme Toase and Dichemso.
It was obvious from the opening game between the Lakers and Kofrom that fans were in for the shock of the lives.
The inter-positional display coupled with the agility, character, understanding and man-to-man marking were some of the major traits that got the fans zigzag their waist and lashing their tongues in an end-to-end action.
The main advantage of the play was the superiority in athleticism. With vast majority of these players likely to move on and play at the senior high level, it is undeniable fact that the qualifying teams (Kwadaso and Asokwa) will be a delight to watch.
Against the seemingly experienced and highly-rated Asokwa in the finals, team Kwadaso had a squad that was capable of winning on the talent alone.
Asokwa brought a crop of hard-working and ambitious players and you could never tell how far their sweat was going to take them.
The spotlight was on one Francis Opoku, a skilled power forward with multi-dimensionality to his scoring skill-set. Point guard Theophilus Yalley provided support. The only issue that Asokwa may face in my opinion is that they are undersized and might be dominated on the boards.
But Kwadaso have a deep and versatile team. They relied on their solid defensive network. They have been practicing and playing together for a long time and it was clear the telepathic understanding between the players was without doubt. They picked up the ultimate but most importantly they’ve picked up experience and will not step into the finals unaware of what expects them.
They should probably count themselves lucky for having an easy ride into the finals. There was no contest because Kofrom had ‘nonsensically’ fielded two unqualified players and so the authorities had to step in and ensure the rules apply.
Otherwise they could have been made to sweat for qualification.
Some people had already highlighted a perceived lack of offensive fluidity during the group stages but their stuttering start on offense proved irrelevant as they shifted the gear with some fine tuning.
They left an early misguided first impression for many who were no doubt anticipating an embarrassing onslaught of epic proportions for Kwadaso.
But, once Kyei Baffour and his colleagues settled down and played to their strengths by moving the ball quickly and finding open shooter, they showed why they deserve to be in Accra on September 1.
Asem Royal’s Charles Gyebi is one talent who will be missed. His only weakness is his inability to make the best count while on the offensive but aside that he could best be described as an almost ‘complete’ player.
He was the X-factor for the Royals but lack of co-ordination cost them the chance to progress from the group stage of the competition.
Despite the few flaws, all the action on the day left an indelible mark on my mind and that has given me an insight into how this year’s championship will evolve.