Preliminary qualifiers for the 2016 Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship will take at Accra Polytechnic on Friday April 1 as the host institution competes against Zenith University College, Valley View University and Blue Crest College. At stake will be a spot in the quarter finals of Ghana’s grandest tertiary basketball competition which is headlined by Rexona.
Third edition of the championship has had several changes including the expanded format that has roped in more teams to compete and a reduction in slots allocated to respective zones.
As the countdown slips from days and hours to mere minutes, Basketballghana.com takes a closer look at Zone F’s most accomplished team; Accra Polytechnic.
Champions -they say- die hard and in Accra Polytechnic, there lies an element of supreme self-belief and confidence that epitomizes the very core of the aforementioned phrase. The two-time and defending champions go into tomorrow’s match up as hands on favorites to make it out of a group that has two sides making their debuts and another that is comparatively weaker than it did 12 months ago.
Accra Polytechnic’s reign in Ghanaian basketball circles is unquestionable; however, there might be signs of a dynasty ending soon. The team’s big three tandem of 2015 Most Valuable Player of the Year Abdul Mutaleeb Alhassan, Farahat Aliu Tamimu and 2015 Tertiary Player of the Year Romeo Enan willed the team to many victories during its’ time together. With the legendary trio in the mix of things, team A Poly won the 2015 UPAC, GHAPSA (Ghana Polytechnic Sports Association) and WAPOGA (West Africa Polytechnics Games Association) basketball competitions.
Conversely, Romeo is no longer with the side as it prepares for yet another arduous journey to the top spot of Ghana tertiary basketball, leaving Farahat and Alhassan to carry the hug expectations of a raucous following. Romeo’s absence has left a gaping hole in the team’s front court as his long frame and impeccable timing that has made him an elite shot blocker, is missing in the side. When paired against elite paint prowlers like Kwame Boamah of GIMPA (Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration) and UENR’s (University of Energy and Natural Resources) Ben Quarshie, this team will most likely struggle as it did against Boamah.
In a warm up game prior to the official commencement of the championship, against GIMPA, Accra Poly’s interior defense lacked solid protection as GIMPA who shot badly in the game, made things happen on the offensive side by making a lot of forays into the paint successfully.
Another cause for consternation is the team’s glaring over reliance on its wing men; Farahat and Alhassan for points. The Small Forward and Shooting Guard have done a great job rescuing the team on countless occasions where it seemed down and out of contention. Just like Farahat’s heroics in last year’s final against Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and GIMPA in the recent friendly. Alhassan’s strangling defense on the perimeter cannot be discounted in all these games.
It must be noted that in times past, there was the plus 6 foot 7 size frame of Enan to clean the glass, block shots and finish above the rim. This leaves extra weight for the duo to carry and turn into wins for the teams. Should either of the two have an off-night and miss games to injuries, Accra Polytechnic will struggle to score and win games.
Accra Polytechnic’s quest for a third consecutive crown looks set to continue at least at the preliminary stage, considering the zone it finds itself in comparatively weaker than other zones in the qualifiers. The team is widely tipped to qualify ahead of Zenith, Blue Crest and Valley View in the zone but replicating the same form of previous editions in the next round, looks dodgy.
The 2016 UPAC Championship is supported by MTN, CAL Bank and Fanyogo in partnership with Basketballghana.com, TV3, YFM and Ghana Sports Newspaper.