Counting down to Ghana’s biggest night of the year, much talk has centered on names that missed out on the final list of several categories in the 2016 Ghana Basketball Awards. On August 12, the Best Western Premier Hotel in Ghana’s capital, Accra will be lit with the best of the best in the sport. After much wrangling and rumblings, the final lists of nominees were announced to the chagrin of some sections.
St. Thomas Aquinas Shooting Guard Ollenu Ashietey’s absence in the Male High School Player of the Year category first comes to mind. Dennis Dugbenu of St. Augustine’s College, Kofi Aboagye Acheampong of Mfantsipim and Emmanuel Agyapong of Opoku Ware School will battle it out for the award.
Another category that has people talking aside its competitiveness is the absence of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)’s mercurial Point Guard Ekow Amoako in the Tertiary Male Player of the Year category. Much of such talk carries major weight especially in the case of Ollenu who single handedly dragged Aquinas through preliminary qualifications to a quarter final berth and was voted Fans Most Valuable Player.
However, every award scheme is bound to face wrong doing as several prospective nominees fail to make the grade. Same way Ghana Music Awards organizers face strife when Shatta Wale gets side stepped or in recent days, when Barcelona ace Neymar didn’t get shortlisted for this year’s European Player of the Year Award.
One category which has garnered little “controversial” chatter thus far has got to do with the Female Most Valuable Player of the Year. Matilda Gordon, Berlinda Boateng, Selina Quaye and Carlyn Adjei make up the final list of names on the verge of winning the most prestigious award in the female division. Despite boasting an impressive CV like her contemporaries, Adjei lags behind mainly due to her outfit’s (Fire Service) poor showing in the Accra Basketball League (ABL).
In seven games played thus far in the 2016 season, Fire has won just one game accruing eight points in the process. The side sits a step above bottom placed Navy in the women’s division standings which puts Carlyn at a disadvantage from the get go. Gordon and Boateng’s Braves of Customs side leads the standings in the division having gone unbeaten in six games. Quaye’s Galaxy side checks in third place with 10 points from four wins. In times where winning has become an obsession, anything short of a tick in the win column of a stat sheet, is deemed a failure.
Another stumbling block in Adjei’s quest for the award will be her team itself. Having covered the league extensively as I have, it is pretty easy to spot the gaping chasm between the sides of her contemporaries and Fire Service. On Thursday July 14, Fire Service took on Air Force as Braves played Navy. The two games highlighted the aforementioned differences between Fire Service and Braves.
On a drive to the basket midway through the fourth quarter of what would turn out to be a 32-79 massacre at the hands of Air Force, Carlyn dropped off a pass intended for a teammate but the clever move didn’t come off as the teammate couldn’t read the play leading to a turnover. In the second quarter of the game that followed next, Braves Matilda Gordon attempted the same move with success this time around as partner Gloria Gyampoh corralled the ball through the hoop. Several minutes after that, the duo combined for more of such moves to perfection as Braves completely blew out Navy winning 57-19.
As gifted as Adjei is, she needs to be surrounded by players capable of replicating some qualities the combo guard possesses. Every player needs help to realize his or her ultimate potential and that does not exclude even the greatest the game has had. Two seasons back, Cleveland dreams of a maiden NBA title got crushed by Golden State Warriors when LeBron James was the sole source of a win following Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving’s injuries. Fast forward 12 months and flanked by both guys, King James delivered on his promise to bring Cleveland a championship. As good as Carlyn Adjei is, a disheartening record and shallow team depth is just way too much to overcome for an August day win.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah