Accra Polytechnic’s strength turned out to be the team’s weakness in crucial moments during the just ended Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship where it ceded its’ stranglehold on the national title to University of Ghana (UG).
The heralded team lost 44-45 to UG in a final fit for the history books before a packed court side at UG’s Center Court. In the enthralling game which was decided by a late three point shot from UG Shooting Guard Emmanuel Wolff, Accra Polytechnic’s dynamic duo of Small Forward Farahat Tamimu and Shooting Guard Abdul Mutaleeb Alhassan could not will the team to victory.
Both men were instrumental in the team’s miraculous comeback victory over Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in last year’s final game. The 57-40 win ensured Accra Poly retained the national title and laid the mark as the best tertiary basketball institution in Ghana.
Having both men in a team is a match made in heaven only one can dream of-Coach Braimah Lawal must be really proud to tutor these guys. Just as the legendary names that came before them – Baniba Dodzie, Emmanuel Dickson, Romeo Enan and many others-Alhassan and Tamimu will be remembered for their outstanding contribution to the tertiary game when they exit the program.
Prior to the start of the quarter finals of the UPAC Championship many wondered if the current crop of players could do the unthinkable of winning three straight championships. The questions were warranted following the team’s mediocre showing in the preliminary qualifiers in Zone F. Set to face not one but two debutants in Valley View University and Blue Crest College plus a weakened Zenith University College, everyone myself included, knew this would be a cake walk for the two-time winners.
Zenith University lost two pillars of the wonderful team that featured in last year’s edition in Center Joseph Boye and 2015 Tertiary Player of the Year Nominee Point Guard Kingsley Quist hence were no longer contenders. Despite the presence of holdovers from last year’s team Ekow Abaidor, Franklyn Edem and Joseph Sena, Zenith was no match for Accra Poly or Valley View or Blue Crest. Accra Poly easily handled Valley View 59-24 and looked for a similar obliteration on another debutant Blue Crest.
However, it was this game that exposed the weakness in the team following Alhassan’s ejection from the game which rendered the team short on leadership, offense and defense.
Blue Crest threatened on so many occasions to get the win before natural instincts of quaking in such high pressure situations took a toll on the team losing 23-27. In Group A of the quarter finals, Accra Poly was paired with Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), UG and Valley View University. The latter institution was a late, late replacement for University of Development Studies. Breezing past Valley View and stumbling somewhat against GIMPA, the most awaited game against UG was ready for tipoff.
At the end of the game, University of Ghana’s unrelenting drives and remarkable athleticism stole the show as Accra Poly lost 28-36. UG and A Poly made the final four by securing the top two spots in the group. An intermission of a rematch was the semi final games which pitched UG against KNUST and Accra Poly against Takoradi Polytechnic in an all Universities, all Polytechnics affair respectively. Always be careful what you wish for because you are going to get it and that is what fans got with A Poly beating T Poly 55-41 and UG piping KNUST 49-47.
In the final, an exciting game got more exciting as the home team took a healthy lead (25-10) amidst drumming and chanting from the famous Vandals of Common Wealth Hall. However, one of Accra Poly’s main problems was Farahat’s ineptitude in defense. The Forward who took over Point Guard duties in certain periods looked utterly gassed by the third quarter as he chased UG’s penetrating Guards Joshua Akai and Joel Tham through the first half. His slackness on defense forced him to foul multiple times when he occasionally got engaged on defense.
As his teammates found a way to hang on without him, things got worse as he fouled out of the game. With one piece of their two man gun machine gone, the team did step out of necessity and admirably clawed its’ way back into contention and even took a 44-42 lead in the final 60 seconds of the game.
Conversely, Emmanuel Wolff wiped out another rally with a dagger three with 13 seconds left. Accra Poly’s ensuing possession ended controversially without an attempt as Center Emmanuel Gyampong got called for an illegal screen gifting UG the chance to pass the ball around and seal a famous win.
The ammo in Frahat’s arsenal was his ability to knock down threes. However, his production wasn’t utter worldly like in previous tourneys and his defense which used to be okay plummeted woefully. Accra Poly discovered a hungry and talented bunch of young studs that filled the role of secondary options on defense and offense behind Alhassan like Suleman Abubakar, Gabriel Numarworse, Zakari Alhassan and Emmanuel Lamptey.