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Fortunes contrast for Air Force in Elite Divisions

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Unlike Reformers of Prisons, Air Force isn’t represented across all three divisions in Ghana’s top basketball league, the Accra Basketball League (ABL). The former has teams in the Men’s Divisions I and II and Women’s leagues respectively. Air Force on the other hand is represented in the Men’s Division I and Women’s Division but any link of similarity between both sides end there.

The team’s ladies lie second in the standings despite being level on points (12) with leaders Braves of Customs; defending champions Braves has played a game less than their close rivals. On the other hand, Air Force’ male side is languishing near the basement having accumulated just six points from five games played for the season. What separates the team from finishing at the bottom is the talented but flawed Holy Family side which is yet to win a game after five attempts. Both sides are handled by Head Coach Thomas Ankrah and Assistant Anthony Bioh; so why the differences? Here is why:

1. Direction

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The ladies side operates with a clear direction developing on offense with painstaking movement on and off the ball and knowing what role each player is to play. Point Guard Annabel Dsane handles the ball and everything goes through her. Alternate options Memuna Mumuni and Grace Yinamyah pick up the duties when called upon. On defense, the side works as cohesive unit with the likes of Susanna Mills deployed in games to pester opposing Point Guards on the perimeter. The male side lacks this kind of direction as plays are jumbled up into all do all affair. Ball handling duties are switched on and off like a light bulb making for an incoherent flow on that side of the court.
A prototypical example happened in overtime against Navy in the last round of games played over the weekend. Lead Guard Edward Sarpong barely touched the ball- despite the team’s best handler and creator -when the side was in search of a crucial bucket with time running out.

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2. Playing style

Watching the male side play often turns out to be copious of Holy Family’s game. Loads of isolation play sprinkled with hero ball antics characteristize both teams play; little wonder Air Force and Family are at the bottom and face each other on Friday June 29 at the Lebanon House. There is minimal screening, cuts to the basket and most importantly passing. A lot of plays end up getting stale on one side of the court in one man’s hand for long stretches which ends up in a contested shot or forced turnover. In the second quarter against Navy, Power Forward Benjamin Sowah scored via jumper despite being double teamed. He attempted more of those but ended up missing. Playing against Fire Service, Air Force ladies won 79-32 emphatically mainly through ball movement. In the fourth quarter and leading 73-32, Memuna Mumuni stole the ball and dropped the ball for Yinamyah in an advanced position to score despite having a clear path to the basket.

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3. Shooting

This point is closely related to the above listed one but is exclusively a major reason for the team’s underwhelming results. Far too many attempts are rushed into and heavily contested. Failing to find the open man after a defense collapses has proved hard to find in the male side. Big man Sampson Annan’s struggles in games as other big men have experienced, can be attributed to this. Lacking touches on offense forced Dwight Howard’s move from Houston Rockets to Atlanta Hawks. Serge Ibaka’s trade from Oklahoma City Thunder to Orlando Magic was set in motion after he said this, “You play so hard on defense, then you come to offense and you’re going to be out there in the corner for 4, 5, 6, sometimes 8 minutes and you don’t touch the ball. We human, man. It’s hard.

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