The educational blocks of Ghana’s tertiary sector mean institutions that fall under the respective blocks, rarely find common ground in stature and administration. However, common ground was reached in 2011 with the introduction of an umbrella basketball competition that brings all institutions, irrespective of their sect affiliations, dubbed the Universities and Colleges Basketball Championship now Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship.
This year’s edition is about to enter the fourth round of zonal qualifiers, has University of Development Studies (UDS) and University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) confirm their places in the last eight of the competition.
The two teams will represent Zone B and C respectively at the University of Ghana on April 14. However, conspicuously missing out of the list of qualified teams so far in the tournament is Zone A’s representative.
Curiously, the zone which kick started the competition this year does not have a representative in the quarter finals yet, due to much awaited but ill timed heavy rains which forced last round of games to be called off.
The outcome of the zone will be decided on April 8 as an aside to Zone G games. Conversely, after two rounds of games, Pentecost University College (PUC) surprisingly sits on top having won all games with Ho Polytechnic and Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) following suit with a win and a loss each. Ghana Technology University College (GTUC) languish in the cellar without recording any victory and was trailing Ho Polytechnic prior due to rain-laden disruption.
With University of Professional Studies out of the competition due to a late withdrawal, the coast was expectedly clear for GIMPA to dominate the zone and qualify from the zone. Two games in and an April date with undefeated PUC puts me in a fix on which GIMPA would walk unto the University of Ghana’s center court.
Is it the GIMPA which played like there was nothing at stake, looking lost and confused against Ho Polytechnic which they lost or would it be the side which fought back from a six point deficit to beat GTUC?
In the opening game against Ho Polytechnic, GIMPA was disjointed mess, low on energy on both ends of the court that quite simply resembled a fr3fr3 k) b) team- a team assembled without synergy.
Highly rated trainer Albert Djan could only stand with hands on hips and watch the horror show unfold in front of him. In this state, the team reverted to its old ways of hero ball where balls got dumped into the hands of veterans McMartey Lawer, Kwame Boamah and “Braves” Cameroonian Forward Paul Eta.
In last year’s edition, Point guard Jake Morrison completed the trio who couldn’t push GIMPA into the next stage. Kwame Boamah-Djan did his part by recording a 10 point, 11 rebounds double-double with two blocks and three steals. Eta and Lawer scored just three points, converting a single shot out of 16 from the field in 67 total minutes. Things were much brighter in the rebounding department as both men did a pretty job on the boards, grabbing five rebounds each. GIMPA lost and had to win its second game against GTUC which leads into the other GIMPA team. The team that fell back 1-5 and 5-11 in the first quarter, but came back strongly to control of the game and grab a win that ensured the team will still be in the running to qualify heading into the final round of games.
Again, the trio albeit a newly made up one, saved GIMPA’s blushes as Kwame Boamah did his thing again by pacing all scorers with 10 points but fell two rebounds short of recording another double-double. Eta produced the goods in limited time as he tossed from the game for a technical; he scored the second most points (seven) in the game.
The duo got a massive boost from newcomer Joe Nettey whose infectious play started the comeback for GIMPA. The team began playing like pre-tournament favorites from that moment on with renewed vigor and sharpness about them which was missing in the first game where they played with an “is this us playing like this?” attitude.
When engaged, GIMPA is one of the best teams in the competition. On the other hand, the team lacks mental fortitude which defines defending champions and two time winners, Accra Polytechnic who won last year’s competition on the back of crucial buckets deep late in the final game against Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. GIMPA is one of the strongest teams despite the stop start showing so far in the competition and has the tools to be even greater but will need more than what meets the eye to be successful.
The 2016 UPAC Championship is headlined by Rexona, supported by MTN, CAL Bank and Fanyogo in partnership with Basketballghana.com, TV3, YFM and Ghana Sports Newspaper.