The flagship basketball league in Ghana’s capital region underwent a change prior to the start of the 2016 season. Hitherto, the Greater Accra Basketball Association League (GABBL) came to be known as Accra Basketball League (ABL) and tipped off on May 6 at the Lebanon House in Tudu.
The league welcomed back some familiar faces including defending champions Braves of Customs, Air Force, Fire Service, Holy Family and Tema Youth to name a few. Like any gathering, there is bound to be a bunch of neophytes who stick out in the group. The ABL’s version came in the form of DC Dynamics and Teshie Rangers; both gained promotion to the upper tier by placing first and second in Division II.
Both teams outlasted the likes of Adenta Leopards, Tema Youth and CYO to earn their way up the ranks. Ironically, the two were paired against each other on the opening day of the new season. Braves of Customs pummeled Holy Family before the new borns took stage under the bright lights of the hollow arena. The only thing many a fan will remember from that game surely will not be the score line (Braves won 69-37) but will definitely be Family’s attitude through all four quarters which they played without any substitutes.
The team didn’t have a coach either on the bench, but had Center James Offei foul out with five minutes left to play and earned the respect of fans for showing grit. Dynamics commenced proceedings with neat inter positional play but succumbed to a 7-8 first quarter loss. The low scoring quarter highlighted jitters both teams showed in their debut game. Once the jitters thawed out of the system, the offense flowed more culminating in the score bumping up to 23-17 in the second quarter with Dynamics in the lead.
Rangers carved a niche for being strong finishers in the lower ranks and showed it again in this matchup as they clawed their way to finish the third quarter trailing by a point (37-38). With a minute and 42 seconds left to play, Dynamics still held a one point lead but got caught out by Emmanuel Ocquaye’s massive offensive rebound which led to a trip to the free throw line. He converted one of two to tie the score and Gabriel Numarworse sealed the win with two made shots from the charity stripe to seal a 52-50 win for Rangers. In two previous meetings in division II, Rangers lost both but fared better in this matchup.
Dynamics followed the loss with a rendez vous go around against Reformers of Prisons. A lightning 20-4 first quarter win preceded the meltdown to befall the Dansoman-based side. A lovely game with both sides going hard at each other degenerated into one that featured coaches and players heckling referees, technical fouls flying everywhere and a 10 minute hold up.
Reformers fared better than Dynamics with the calls and duly converted the chances to win 65-59. Dynamics’ inability to close out games came back to haunt them again and the team will need to grow mentally to withstand runs from opposing teams. Rangers 37-39 loss to Air Force wasn’t dominated by controversial calls but those of their brand new kits which were unveiled prior to the game, did.
The new bright yellow colored -with black strips that align its side’s- kit created a buzz around the team ultimately leading to being christened “The Power Rangers”. Unfortunately, the Power Rangers couldn’t channel their inner powers to save the day as Air Force won the matchup despite having no part in deciding the game’s outcome. Rangers Shooting Guard Numarworse got fouled on a three point attempt with less than seven seconds to play but failed to convert from the free throw line to condemn his team to its’ first season loss.
After the game, Rangers Guard Bernard Tetteh noted his team’s loss was down to the opposing side being more physical and tough whilst pointing out the need for Rangers to adapt to the style of play in division I.
With two losses in two games and a loss and win, the Accra Basketball League’s new members are yet to show signs of life in the division.