Thanks to “Dumsor”, the 2016 Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship will be remembered for many things; Emmanuel Wolff’s dagger three pointer right at the death to give University of Ghana (UG) a 45-44 win over Accra Polytechnic and eventually the national title.
Other contending story lines surely must include Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Kwame Boamah’s insane rebound against Accra Polytechnic and UG’s Maxwell Mod’s power dunks against Marshalls University College. 2015 National Most Valuable Player Abdul “Varandah” Mutaleeb Alhassan’s Tayshaun Prince-esque block on Joshua Akai in the final game. Akai had the last laugh gathering the loose ball and scoring on a layup.
However, one line that run through the entire competition beginning from preliminary games, through quarter final, semi final and final games respectively was the issue of officiating. So many incidents have brought officiating to the limelight in basketball circles in Ghana. Who can forget the fight that almost broke out in the Rush Community Basketball Tournament game between some fans of Osu Hawks and Tudu Warriors in December. Or the offensive charge that nearly caused the entire organization of Old Students of Opoku Ware School to descend on the El-Wak Stadium Court in ire during Sprite Ball.
That call earned Mfantsipim School a sixth straight final appearance and the chance to extend its trophy haul (4) in the competition, all at the expense of Opoku Ware. That happened in January and the latest round of supposed goofs from the men on the sideline and man in the middle will simply not go away. Not when defending UPAC champions and two-time winners Accra Polytechnic are in the mix to extend the impressive feat to three. The team looked in pole position to offset the “Wolff Shot” with eight seconds left to play as leader Alhassan had the ball in his hands and made a quick dart into UG’s half.
Akai UG’s Point Guard was in hot pursuit but got pummeled by a hard screen from Emmanuel Gyampong that sent him crashing to the floor. Accra Polytechnic to their dismay got called for an offensive foul and had to cede possession to UG who run the clock down to record a 45-44 win in the most dramatic way. What ensued after the game wasn’t surprising at least for anyone who had followed proceedings right from the start of the tournament. Referees got almost physically attacked but definitely got verbally abused from a frustrated bench which found it difficult to comprehend how a call could have salvaged the team from what had been a mediocre showing in the competition.
What happened in the aftermath of the game was the climax to a building strain or disconnect between teams and players on one side and game officials on another side. A flashback to Zone E games held at the University of Cape-Coast was the genesis of this discord. Coach of Cape-Coast Polytechnic –who go by the moniker The Mambas- Andrew Arthur, discredited the capabilities of officials of the day after he alleged his team got called for soft touches but weren’t rewarded for taking harder ones.
His exasperation turned to utter frustration as he muttered the dreaded word, boycott as his team’s ultimate itinerary regarding next year’s edition. Zone F was next with runaway leaders Accra Polytechnic taking on debutants Blue Crest College in the final round of games. Mutaleeb Alhassan got ejected from the game after voicing his disapproval of a call that got Coach Lawal Braimah incensed. That wasn’t to be the last as the reaction from Accra Poly went an amp higher when the stakes were higher in the final game. In Zone G all was well until the an outstanding Zone A game between GIMPA and Pentecost University College degenerated into an all too familiar scene of “yen b)) biom”-abandoning a game when Pentecost feeling slighted with calls moved to the far end of the court in an attempt to abandon the game.
That was quashed when cooler heads prevailed but it had laid the foundations for a similar scene to be recreated by Accra Poly in the final minutes of a pulsating final game. Again, thanks to “Dumsor”, a final fit for the ages nearly didn’t end as A Poly walked off the court in protest of the readjusted game clock which had to be reconfigured after a blackout. But this great game had just one twist left as the screen call on Gyampong caused ripples in tertiary basketball.