The idea of strength in multiple folds is an endearing concept that cast away franchise Golden State Warriors used to spear head their surge to champions in the NBA or World as it is referred to. Not particularly strong in exclusivity but in congregation, each strength is multiplied as each weakness is shielded. In the annals of Ghana basketball, the upcoming Basketball Awards nominations sheds more light on the immense benefits adopting such strategy, can conjure wins.
Take a look at the most dominant team of the year University of Ghana (UG); after capturing successive titles in the country, the institution’s male team triumphed on the continent by winning the All Africa Games Basketball event in South Africa.
The team first play synonymous with team can be partly cited as a major reason for the team’s failure to represent heavily in the nomination list. All but two members of the legendary team-Coach Meme Falconer and Power Forward Maxwell Mod-made it on to the final short list of nominees. However, as interesting as the subject would be to discuss, this piece is solely inclined to one particular individual category that will be one of the most hard to get right answers on August 12 at the plush Best Western Premier Hotel.
Falconer finds himself in hot waters as he is joined by Lawal Brimah and James Okine as nominees for the Coach of the Year. UG’s trainer and two time category winner Brimah are more or less known quantities in the ever growing system in Ghana.
On the contrary, little was known about Okine before bursting on the scene with his unrelenting bravado, tough talk and sideline antics that will make Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho shudder in awe. He led Marshalls University College to place fourth the institution’s debut run around in the Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship, led POJOSS to a historic third place finish and at the helm of Tudu Magic in the Accra Basketball League. Beating host University of Ghana to fourth place in a competition that harnesses strength of only the strongest basketball programs across the vast estate of Ghanaian Tertiary, is no mean feat.
A new year marked a new beginning for Okine and it took just three days into 2016 to announce his readiness to leave an indelible mark in his wake. To do, that he needed a big impact and what bigger impact is there than to wake a slumbering giant up. Pope John High School and Junior Seminary a greatly heralded school that has been an ever present feature at the Sprite Ball Championship-Ghana’s biggest High School Basketball Competition-but failed to shine consistently. Guiding the side through the motions of qualification in unheralded fashion, POJOSS nearly gate crashed an impending Mfantsipim-St. Augustine’s clash in the final game. The team, led by Shooting Guard Emmanuel Derry clinched a first ever medal for the team by beating Opoku Ware 26-19.
Two months later, James was at it again as he moved up a level to return his beloved Marshalls to the UPAC final four. All went according to plan as the side booked its place in the quarter finals before playing UG in a repeat of last year’s crucial decider. This time around, free throws (a facet that will come back to haunt Marshalls) cost his side top spot in Zone G. Beating Kwame Nrumah University of Science and Technology and University of Energy and Natural Resources proved futile as missed free throws fueled a close loss to Takoradi Polytechnic. The loss coupled with unfavorable results in other games caused Marshalls to miss their target. Oh and there is the little issue of he leading Marshalls to a first ever Private Universities Sports Association Games (PUSAG) basketball competition.
In the ABL (Accra Basketball League), James’ Magic side has lost once in four games played in the season. Okine does not have multiple titles his contemporaries boast of but he makes up for it with his uncanny ability to compete and thrive on all frontiers in the country. Come over to the Lebanon House Court in Tudu, Accra on Friday, July 29 to catch a glimpse of the live wire James Okine in action as he leads Magic against defending Champions Braves of Customs which is coached by Brimah Lawal.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah