UG v ATU (yellow)
Marshalls lost to GTUC to miss the knockout out games.
No matter how great a team is, there comes a time when the inevitable decline sets in and from what transpired in the NBA Regular season, it is almost sure Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will not meet in the Final Series.

For three straight seasons, the teams have split the Championship emphasizing their dominance in the respective conferences in the world’s greatest basketball league. The emergence of Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors and to an extent Boston Celtics, have lowered the expectation of a fourth straight final involving Cleveland and Golden State this season.

While Accra Technical University (ATU) and University of Ghana (UG) have dominated tertiary basketball in Ghana, the two sides have largely avoided each other bar the 2016 UPAC Final.

The West African nation’s greatest tertiary hoops competition has a funny way of throwing up surprises at every turn which makes for different teams to gate crash any kind two horse race party.

University of Education-Winneba (UEW), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and Marshalls University College have done so by going up against either ATU or UG in UPAC’s previous editions before this year’s edition.

However, with Marshalls failing to qualify from the preliminary stage and UEW making a return to the knockout phase for the first time since 2011, a certain meeting between ATU and UG was on the cards. KNUST had the chance to prevent that from happening and the Kumasi-based institution almost achieved that in what turned out to be the best game of the 2018 UPAC Championship.

UG survived a big scare from KNUST (green).
KNUST battled hard from an eight point deficit to tie the game at 26 before Shooting Guard Gustav Addo went to the free throw line with two chances to give his side the win. Conversely, he missed both shots, UG triumphed 37-29 in overtime and the best performing teams in tertiary basketball were destined to cross path in the final. ATU took care of business beating Takoradi Technical University (TTU) 52-37 as did UG who clinched a 66-48 win over UEW.

So the biggest matchup was set in a remake of the 2016 Final UG won in amidst intense drama and controversy. The nerves showed in a first quarter that ended in a 15-14 UG win before ATU turned on the style to clinch a seven point (27-20) lead at the end of the first half.

ATU’s lead was crucial as the team needed to maintain its lead to end a slide that had them place second and third in 2016 and 2017. Steady defense highlighted by blocked shots from Gracefield Attoh and Kelvin Tamakloe held ATU at bay to tie the score at 31. The final quarter was about turning on the style with Emmanuel Wolff and Kwame Opoku leading the way; the latter delivered a game highlight switch of hands in midair layup move that sent the crowd wild. Unsurprisingly, Opoku and Wolff were named Co winners of the Most Valuable Player Award with the veteran backcourt showing loads of experienced plays throughout the competition as holdovers from the past winning UG teams.

2016 and 2017 Champions UG.

So a 41-36 result was enough to send University of Ghana’s Male Basketball Team into the history books as the only side to win three UPAC titles. Furthermore, the team becomes the first to win championships in three consecutive years bettering ATU’s mark of two straight wins in 2011 and 2015. For the first time in the history of UPAC, the MVP Award was shared giving UG another slice of history.

So the defending champions managed to three peat earning three big achievements in the process and fell on three factors to remain at the summit of tertiary basketball in Ghana. UG had the fire power to beat opponents ending the competition with the best goal difference of 73, played tough on defense and had the winners luck at opportune moments to clinch the historic win. So another year of UG as championship winning title bearer has begun and the latest title winning year just might be the best of all due to the historic impact attached to it.

The certain drop will come but per the great initiatives put in place by the institution’s administration headlined by the “UG-PASS” program, UG’s reign is set to last for a while.

By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter


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