The third edition of the Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship heads into the third week of qualifiers with Ashanti Region’s Kumasi Polytechnic due to host Zone D games on its court. Ghana Technology University College, Garden City University College and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology will join the host to contend for the sole ticket to the quarter finals which will take place on April 8 at the University of Ghana.
UPAC-the biggest tertiary basketball championship in Ghana- headlined by Rexona, will make a stop in the regional capital Kumasi in search of the latest institution to join University of Development Studies and University of Energy and Natural Resources in the last eight of the competition.
1978 Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) Female Basketball Player of the Year winner, Salifatu Musa stressed on the need for competitions to be hosted regularly as a way to improve basketball in the country. A quick look through the list of qualified institutions for the UPAC Championship reveals why.
Despite being located several miles from each other, both institutions have a similar trait peculiar to the ongoing Championship. Both teams featured in the basketball competition at the Ghana Universities Sports Association (GUSA) Games held in Winneba earlier this year. The 24th edition of the Games had UPAC Zone G host, University of Ghana emerge champions after beating University of Professional Studies (UPSA) in the final game. UPSA was scheduled to play in the UPAC Championship but pull out of the competition late it got stripped off its hosting rights.
After three rounds of qualifiers -Zone A is yet to be determined-it is curious to note that winners of Zones B and C all featured in the biannual tournament. UDS and UENR-placed sixth out of eight- played in the tournament and it is safe to say, both teams have reaped the benefits of participating in the competition. Waltzing through the competition with ease, it wasn’t hard to notice both teams looked sharper and were a step ahead of their opponents.
Sunyani Polytechnic coach Kwadwo Boateng Prempeh pointed out his team’s failure to make it to the next stage was a result of the lack of competitions for his team but noted the opposite situation enabled UENR to qualify. “They have played several competitions for the last three months so I think they have prepared adequately” but conceded his team lacked stamina he said. Similar thoughts were echoed by Tamale Polytechnic head coach Braham Muhaga who funneled his teams winless in Zone B due to jitteriness.
“With my team we have not had enough competitions to play and my boys were a bit nervous because of the situation they found themselves in with the crowd.” As hosts, the lads from T Poly got tensed playing in front of a demanding crowd which led him to allude, “If more of such competitions come around, why not? They will get used to it and we can do better next time.”
For UENR Coach Andy Quansah, competitions such as GUSA prepared the ground for better performances for the UPAC Championship. Following a 49-24 shellacking of Catholic University College, the delighted head trainer marked prior competitions including GUSA as potent avenues for fine tuning his tactics. “It helped me as a coach because I knew what these guys were lacking and most of them didn’t have experience. As a coach it helped me a lot and where to work on with this team.” Another example of such competitions is the Private Universities Students Association of Ghana (PUSAG) Games which is set to take place at the El-Wak Sports Stadium between March 23-27.
With a bevy of private institutions participating in the UPAC Championship, eligible to compete in the PUSAG, it will be hardly surprising seeing some institutions participate as they await their turn in the UPAC Championship. Zone F has two single public institutions in defending champions Accra Polytechnic and Valley View University. Blue Crest University College and Zenith University College make up the rest of the zone. Zone G follows suit with University of Ghana being the sole non private tertiary institution. Marshalls University College, Central University College and Wisconsin University College are the remaining three.
Competitions make up for the best way to practice drills and set plays, harness telepathy and nurture team chemistry in game-day conditions and as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.
The 2016 UPAC Championship is supported by MTN, CAL Bank and Fanyogo in partnership with Basketballghana.com, TV3, Y FM and Ghana Sports Newspaper.