Reigning National MVP Matilda Gordon has not featured this season.
Carlyn Adjei.

The Accra Basketball League (ABL) Women’s Division is heading towards the end but with a few rounds left to play, Fire Service Carlyn Adjei easily stands out as the best player in the division. The Point Guard’s playmaking skills are as good as they come. Her iffy shooting stretches behind the arc hurt affect her efficiency and numbers but her overall contribution more than makes up for cold spells from deep.

It must be noted, Fire’s floor general has maintained her level of play throughout the season and carried over the kind of performances that had her get nominated as the Most Valuable Player at the 2016 Ghana Basketball Awards.

Unlike last season, there is a growing feeling with every exceptional play, Adjei gets closer and closer to clinching Ghana’s top individual award this year. Her path to the main stream MVP conversation has also been made much easier with the absence of last year’s winner Matilda Gordon.

The former Aggrey Memorial Mount Zion School standout has missed out this season due to a knee injury sustained last season that is yet to completely heal. That aside, Fire Service’ improved performance this season has invariably contributed to the change in perception since a good team record is essential to making a worthy MVP case.

Despite playing brilliantly all season last year, Fire ranked bottom of the six team standings with just 11 points after recording a win in 10 games. Often in Fire games it was a one man or in this case one woman show as very little contribution came from other members on the roster.

Fire Guard Carlyn Adjei attempts pass against Navy.

The effects of such a dire situation was highlighted in the piece Why Carlyn Adjei Won’t Win Most Valuable Title as a major reason for her likely miss on the MVP Award which turned out to be true with the Award going to Gordon who enjoyed another year as a league winner with Braves of Customs. After wining last season’s title without losing a game with Gordon on board, Braves season has not gone according to plan with the defending champs at risk of losing this campaign’s title after three losses. Matters look different this time around despite Fire bringing back virtually the entire group that featured last season. Coaches Raphael Ahadzie and Lawrence Nortey remain the technical brains behind the team but for the season, Fire has fared comparatively well than the last campaign racking up three wins in the process.

The side still has a losing record for the season (3 wins and 4 losses) but can take a little reprieve in its improved win share for the season and clinching a 53-51 win over Ghana Navy in its last game. The most telling difference behind the team’s output for the year however, has been the improved play of the other members on the roster which has reduced the over dependence on Adjei. The likes of Nora Asamoah, Theresa Dodoo and Nafisa Iddrisu have made significant contributions to the team. The increased productivity from other members of the team has made Fire a major threat even in instances where their best player gets serious attention. Being on the same wavelength with Adjei has helped the side benefit from her crisp no look and defense splitting passes. Many turnovers were registered as a result of the lack of telepathy inevitably playing a major part in the excessive losses the team suffered last season.

Asamoah handling the ball against Navy in the first round with Dodoo in close quarters.

Now, Iddrisu is grabbing a whole lot more rebounds, Dodoo has become a consistent secondary scorer and primary scorer in situations where the primary scorer struggles for her shot. In the game against Navy, Fire trailed in every quarter bar the final quarter but came out on top mainly because of the balanced play on either side of the court. While Navy’s main scoring threat Memuna Mumuni and Grace Yinamyah encountered cold spells scoring the basket, Fire had no such problems as different scorers reduced the team’s deficit and eventually overtook Navy. Basketball is a team sport and individual brilliance, no matter how good it is, can’t win it all. As such Fire’s improved performance this season can have far reaching effects than just the good feeling winning more games bring.

In fact, winning more could land Fire an MVP winner on its team since it was largely the reason behind Carlyn Adjei’s miss on the MVP Award last season.

By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter


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