Takoradi Polytechnic will compete at the quarter final stage of the 2016 Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship set to take place at the University of Ghana in Accra on April 14. The team secured a spot in the last eight of Ghana’s grandest tertiary basketball competition courtesy of a first place position after qualifiers were completed in Zone E.
The team went unbeaten in the competition and secured a hard fought 49-46 victory over University of Cape-Coast that sealed qualification.
Based in Ghana’s Western Region, the team made the not too long journey to Cape-Coast (Central Region capital) to compete against hosts University of Cape-Coast (UCC), University of Education-Winneba (UEW) and Cape-Coast Polytechnic for the chance to participate in the later stages of the Rexona-headlined tournament.
However, UEW, due to internal challenges withdrew from the competition at the last turn, reducing the field to just three teams. The withdrawal and morning rains delayed proceedings on the day but the competition took off as soon as the skies were clear and participating teams had all checked in for inspection.
The battle for the zone’s sole ticket to Accra, began with a tantalizing and mouth watering matchup between city rivals Cape-Coast Polytechnic and host UCC but the contest failed to light up the competition as both teams played with any kind of coordination and plan. In the end, UCC had enough quality to beat C-Poly 46-35 to be close in on qualifying from the quarter finals.
After a 30 minutes intermission that featured a jama competition between fans of teams, Takoradi Polytechnic went into action against a deflated Cape-Coast Poly team reeling from the stinging defeat to UCC and according to them biased officiating, in its’ opening act in the competition.
However, the game was never a game really as a tired looking Cape-Coast team failed to matchup to the speed and discipline of their contemporaries from the West which resulted in a sorrowful 33-61 loss for Cape-Coast.
Even the weather lightened up after the much anticipated matchup between UCC and Takoradi Polytechnic was confirmed as sun rays beamed out of the sky for the first time in the day. Both teams were undefeated, had met in a similar situation last year which T Poly won and both teams were in the hunt for a deep run in the Championship.
UCC, buoyed on by a partisan crowd, took charge of the game’s lead from the onset and looked much better than in the previous game against Cape-Coast Polytechnic. The coordination was better, passes found their men and the team just clicked. T Poly still did enough to hang around by making key plays to ensure the deficit wasn’t big.
Things stayed the same till the third quarter where Otu Laryea, Morgan and Kent Agyeman upped their production to not only wipe out the deficit but go ahead to exchange game leads with the host institution till the deciding fourth quarter.
Someway, somehow, UCC capitulated under the pressure of losing the game’s lead and went into a horrendous spell of missing crucial baskets and making bad passes which emboldened T Poly to do just enough to pip UCC.
What stood out about Takoradi Polytechnic’s run to the quarter finals was the team’s outstanding level of stamina and conditioning which allowed key players Laryea, Morgan and Kent to stay in games for long periods. The bench does need some work as fill in for the trio couldn’t muster a similar level of production which caused scoring to stagnate and defense to collapse.
UCC suffered a similar fate with a thin bench that failed to hold things together while starters took breaks during games. Conversely, players from the side didn’t match up physically to their opponents; an observation which former head Coach Isaac Mensah shared when Basketballghana.com caught up with him after the loss.
UCC’s loss marks the end of the winning run of coach Lawrence Ampiah who has won multiple titles in several competitions this year including gold medals with St. Augustine’s College at the Sprite Ball Championship and UCC’s Ladies Basketball Team respectively.
Takoradi Polytechnic officially joins University of Development Studies-Tamale, University of Energy and Natural Resources and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology on the list of qualified teams in the last eight of the tournament.
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.