In simple language, a Cinderellla story is one of hopeless situation gone well. A beautiful young but deprived lady meets a Prince, charms him so much that he is obsessed with finding the lady through a shoe. He does eventually find her, get married and live happy ever after.
That is what happens in the fantasy land but in the real world and specifically in basketball, a Cinderella story is just as uncomplicated as the animated book or in recent years, movie. A Cinderella Story in basketball, a team is down by 10 points but needs to win with any difference above six points then a deep three pointer sparks the team to win by 10 points. It happens in the world’s greatest league, the NBA but in a fledgling hoops nation like Ghana, such stories don’t happen often and even when they do, the damsel gets finished off.
Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration’s (GIMPA) first ever quarter final berth in the Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship tethered perilously towards the end before Center Paul Eta’s release touched the heavens before settling at the bottom of nylon 10 feet in the air. What followed was a scoring run only a team with renewed confidence could emulate. GIMPA erased the deficit but replicated it on their opponents as beat Pentecost University College 37-27 to advance to the next round.
The exit was a painful one for Pentecost University who had the entire hoops world rooting for them following an impressive start to the Championship. Why the entire hoops world was rooting for Pentecost? The team wasn’t even part of the teams set to participate in the tournament but won two straight games in fascinating fashion against Ho Polytechnic and Ghana Technology University College once it got the chance. University of Professional Studies’ withdrawal from the tournament at the last turn gave Pentecost the green light to compete in what is regarded as Ghana’s best tertiary basketball competition.
However, the last game against GIMPA had to be played on April 8 due to incessant rain. On the day, Zone G qualifiers looked every bit the way it was pre scripted by virtually everyone as Marshalls University College and University of Ghana won in convincing fashion in the early rounds. Prior to the anticipated show between the two, the outstanding fixture tipped off with Pentecost dictating the pace and unsurprisingly taking a 10 point lead after the first half.
All seemed lost for GIMPA who went into the competition with high expectations as the team had legendary names Kwame Boamah, McMartey Lawer and Jake Morrison on the roster. But it was one of the team’s newcomers Eta who sparked the GIMPA back to life with a three point shot against the run of play. Considering Eta had failed to nail a three point attempt in previous games and recording mediocre numbers-2 and 7 points-in those games, it was surprising to see the big guy’s shot sink. GIMPA jolted into action and scored in varied bunches to tie the score and take the lead.
A mix of controversial calls, poor shot selections and turnovers caused the Pentecost lads to abandon the team oriented basketball that had them win games early in the tournament for a hero ball game with lots of three point attempts. Frustrations boiled over when Pentecost coach Nii Kwei Kotey, frustrated by calls against his team, ushered players off the court, threatening to abandon the game. GIMPA extended the game’s lead to ten after calm was restored and setting the mood for a cruise finish to the end and a last eight appearance.
Two days after the last edited congratulatory photographs and messages to the team, GIMPA got drawn in the same group with defending and two-time champions Accra Polytechnic, reigning GUSA (Ghana Universities Sports Association) Basketball Champions, University of Ghana and debutants Wa Polytechnic in Group A. This surely wouldn’t please Forward Kwame Boamah, who hoped for “a manageable” group ahead of the draw.
So there it is; a team which didn’t have any clue of competing in Ghana’s biggest tertiary basketball competition, touched the hearts of fans with splendid wins when they did compete, crashed out in appalling fashion.
To Pentecost University Colleges’ vanquishers, GIMPA, a tall order await in the quarters but a Cinderella story is never far away but to avoid a similar story ending tragically, they look out for these in their favour:
-Pray it doesn’t rain to halt a game on its’ scheduled date.
-have a frontcourt big man who can shoot from deep on a good day.
-be on the receiving end of difficult calls from officials.
Wa Polytechnic should also take note.