The 2016 Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship already has two institutions confirm their place in the final eight of the competition as University of Development Studies (UDS)and University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) qualified from the zonal games to the main competition.
World renowned deodorant brand Rexona is headlining this year’s event which happens to be the third edition of the competition since its inception in 2011. UDS and UENR beat out competition in Zones B and C including Tamale Polytechnic, Sunyani Polytechnic and Catholic University College respectively. With both institutions sharing similar traits such as starting Point Guards of both teams winning the Most Valuable Player award in their respective zones, a less than pleasurable but similar scenario is panning out in Zone D.
This zone features teams located in the Ashanti Region as Kumasi Polytechnic will host Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana Technology University College (GTUC-Kumasi) and Garden City University College. Kumasi Polytechnic and KNUST are favorites to top the group considering the former is coached by successful long tenured tactician Emmanuel “Ghanaar” Essel Worbil and the latter just came up short in last year’s edition, losing to Accra Polytechnic in the final game. Garden City University and new comers GTUC-Kumasi will be the underdogs here though Garden City has been a part of the competition right from the start.
However, with the commencement of the third week just days away-will be played on Saturday March 19-some participating institutions have found it difficult preparing for the championship due to the absence of a basketball court at the various institutions. Investigations by Basketballghana.com have revealed GTUC and Garden City University are facing extreme challenges ahead of the zonal games because both institutions do not have basketball courts. The absence of the fundamental logistic is not only having a toll on the training regime of the teams but also draining them financially.
Ayiwole Ishmael, a team representative of GTUC said his team is preparing well by playing some friendly games but the biggest challenge the team faces is the absence of a basketball court to train on. “The biggest challenge we face is the court to train on because we don’t have one on our campus and we have to go to other courts far way from our campus which is very expensive moving to train over there” he said. The other major challenge affecting the team is the little issue of balancing learning and training. Sports Chairman of Ghana Technology University College (GTUC-Kumasi), Derrick Okuadjo also echoed the same infrastructure challenges.
As the UPAC Championship train is set to roll into town this weekend, the institution will be hoping for a better showing than that of their cousins in Accra who lost all two games and was staring at a third straight defeat before heavy rain disrupted proceedings. He said, “The only challenge we have is that we don’t have a court at our campus so we have our training somewhere”. Organizers of UPAC, Rite Sports Limited has placed massive premium on infrastructure in this year’s edition as they seek to improve the quality of the Championship.
For reference on the company’s intent on providing the best of facilities to players and fans, University of Professional Studies was prevented from hosting Zone A games and subsequently led to the institutions withdrawal from the competition. The latest trend of structural challenges is the latest trend to drip into the ever expanding pool of intricacies of this year’s edition of Ghana’s grandest tertiary basketball tournament. In a previous post “Competitions give teams upper-hand”, participating in tune up games giving added advantage to UENR and UDS wins was discussed extensively.
Perhaps having available infrastructure will be the key to winning the zone just as warm up games helped other teams qualify to the latter stage of the competition. However, this assertion, like in junior competitions like Sprite Ball-which has Mfantsipim win four titles despite the Cape-Coast based school’s lack of a basketball court-can be proven wrong and in Garden City and GTUC, there lies the great potential to do so.
The 2016 UPAC Championship is supported by MTN, CAL Bank and Fanyogo in partnership with Bsketballghana.com, TV3, YFM and Ghana Sports Newspaper.