The solemnity of the celebration should have pricked me to notice there was something wrong with the team, something wrong with the season, something wrong with Ghana basketball. I never had problems with English at school that is until my final year in high school when I got introduced to Summary.
Hacking down words without losing semblance of a sentence’s message proved to be a challenge for a guy who cherished writing freely and long as a wild horse roams the plains of Nevada. But I eventually got it together and here I am about to apply the same principles to describe what I saw on October 14 in Tudu without going overboard lengthwise.
In the beginning, I thought the cold air which threatened to douse the hard faithfuls gathered at the Lebanon House in Tudu, was the main reason for the languid posture of the winning team. No confetti rained down, no champagne was popped, no podium, absolutely nothing; just a table with a clean white cloth draped around it and two trophies on it.
One trophy was the prize for winning Ghana’s best and storied basketball league; the Accra Men’s Division I Basketball League.
The other trophy was to be awarded to the winner of the six team female division. Don’t have any idea where Adenta Leopards trophy- for winning Division II and gaining promotion to Division I- is or when it will be presented to them.
And I almost forgot to add there was no financial reward for winning the trophy after several weeks of bruising battles in the painted area beneath the basket, broken ankles, dislocated fingers and wearing out soles of high end sneakers of their colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
So there you go. Ghana’s biggest hoops league in summary and in summary, managers of the league ought to sit up because your ineptitude has cost the fraternity dearly.
After witnessing a great final game of the season between defending champions Braves of Customs and Tema Youth, reality set in when Youth Coach Emmanuel “Rubberman” Quaye stated his side will not make a trip to Togo to compete in the FIBA Zone Three Africa Championship for a shot at featuring in the main Africa Club Championship.
The reason for the withdrawal, “we don’t have $10,000” stated the veteran trainer.
Please don’t shy from the amount because of the currency symbol affixed to the numbers above but know that 50,000 Ghana Cedis is what Tema needed to make the trip happen. Only a few days after that declaration, Ghana President John Mahama through Chief of Staff Julius Debrah donated the same amount to Bechem United to construct an astro turf in order for the team’s home venue to host international games following the side’s qualification to the African Confederations Cup.
For football, money has been provided yet Ghana can’t host an international basketball game due to substandard facilities in the country. By virtue of placing second last season, Tema qualified to play in Africa but for the lack of 50,000, their aspirations went amiss. For the record, Tema lost 52-67 to Braves to miss out on the league title yet again. Enough with the first runners up, let’s move straight to perennial champions Braves.
Another season, another unbeaten run, another title. Surely all this must be getting boring for anyone who has followed the league as the Customs side has dominated the league since its creation. Unlike Tema Youth- a civilian team- Braves is backed by Ghana’s Customs and Tax Service so they moving to Togo to compete against clubs representing West African countries including Nigeria, Mali, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, was seemingly a giving.
One reason for Braves sustained success over the years has been the financial power the side wields making it possible for players to be catered for better than any team in the league. As such, players who excel in other teams are poached by Braves inadvertently creating a super team; little surprise Braves 2016 side features three Most Valuable Player of the Year winners at the Ghana Basketball Awards in Baniba Dodzie (2013), Abdul Mutaleeb Alhassan (2015) and Suleman Abubakar (2016).
So when news of the team’s failure to grace the international competition popped up ending all hope of having a Ghanaian representative at the championship in the process, disappointment became an underwhelming catch phrase. To know the side was denied the trip due to administrative issues which has the scent of upcoming national and parliamentary election- backed reasons written all over it, is gob smacking. None of the teams, players nor basketball fraternity deserve this kind of treatment from their brethren.
I won’t exonerate the culpable basketball leaders from the dire situation but let me quickly point out football leaders aren’t faring any better yet some way somehow they get their wishes attended to whilst others are ignored. So Mr. President over to you.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah