As the 2013/2014 DStv/
Men’s Premier Basketball League dunks-off on Friday, the question on the lips of fans is, can Kano Pillars retain the title for a second consecutive season?
Pillars had defeated Union Bank Club of Lagos 86-75 on the last day of the National Final Four Championship held in Lagos to emerge winners of last season.
Penultimate to the National Final Four, the club was indomitable in the Savannah Conference, winning all its matches in the 2012/2013 regular season.
As a result of their impressive run, fans branded them “The Invincible” and were rewarded hugely by the Kano State Government after winning the Final Four.
The National Final Four ended with Pillars defeating Dodan Warriors and Union Bank and losing one to Savannah Conference rivals Mark Mentors of Abuja.
Pillars Head Coach, Ahmed Sani told newsmen that their objective was to retain the title they won in September 2013 as he previewed the coming season.
“We are confident of ourselves and we are prepared for any challenge any opposition brings, we are going to take one game at a time.
“We don’t underrate any team but we know we have the best players the league can boast of though some players left us, nevertheless, we have re-enforced those areas.
“Our players are also properly motivated, they get their salaries and their bonuses regularly and what is more is that they are united,” Sani said.
A Union Bank veteran player, Obum Onyia, said that Pillars were a force to reckon with because of the team’s chemistry which they had built for the past four years.
“Pillars have a team that has been together for some time now, they are a very good side, and nevertheless we are prepared to tackle any team for the trophy.
“I believe in my team, especially in the younger players we recruited. They have the energy and bring more strength to the team to deliver the goods,” Onyia said.
Union Bank Coach, Johnson Ayinla whose team fell to Pillars on last season’s final day, said he was confident they would emerge champions of the 2013/2014 season.
According to Ayinla, the club’s management has empowered the team to ensure that they achieve their target for the season.
“We are prepared than ever before, we are not troubled about what other teams have because we know our strength and we know we are better equipped than last season.
“Our players are level headed; they are disciplined and ready to do what is expected of them. We are well organised and confident of ourselves,” he said.
In the same vein, Lagos Islanders Coach, Lateef Erinfolami, expressed optimism toward emerging champions of the coming season, adding that it was the club’s sole objective.
“We want to win the title, it’s our target, and we are not going into the season just to play but specifically set our aim on the league’s trophy.
“It’s going to be a great battle from the jump-ball date, we have assured our fans that we will not let them down,’’ Erinfolami said.
The Proprietor, Dodan Warriors of Lagos, Col. Sam Ahmedu (rtd), said the club’s position was not necessarily to win the league but to put up a first class performance.
“We are an institution that trains and nurtures young players to top class athletes.
“We have four players who are currently on scholarships in the US through their last season’s performances.
“Our players for the coming season are ready psychologically and prepared to compete favourably,” he said.
According to the fixtures provided by the Nigeria Basketball Federations (NBBF), Union Bank will play Kwara Falcons on March 7 at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Lagos.
This season’s format provided by NBBF will have first four clubs qualifying from each of the two conferences for the Final Eight to determine the 2013/2014 champions.
The regular season is expected to end in June after 15 weeks of matches may have been concluded in the two conferences.
CAF Mulls Super League Idea
The Confederation of African Football [CAF] is discussing the idea of introducing an African Super League, a continental competition which would likely replace the current CAF Champions League and hopefully boost revenue for the organising body.
The revelation was made as CAF President Patrice Motsepe issued a statement outlining the changes and reforms the new leadership is making to ensure African football is globally competitive and self-sustaining.
The idea has taken shape even despite the disastrous European Super League [ESL] proposal earlier this year, which caused major controversy before being banned after most founding member clubs bowed to fan pressure and pulled out.
“ExCo [the CAF executive committee] may have to discuss and consider new CAF competitions which may generate additional funding or income for CAF, its member associations and bodies and also contribute to African football becoming globally competitive and self-sustaining,” Motsepe was quoted as saying by Tidesports source.
“In this regard, we are assessing and [are] in preliminary discussions to start an inclusive and broadly supported and beneficial CAF African Super League. We have been following the attempts by some top European clubs to form a Euro Super League and will learn from their experience and pitfalls.”
CAF is looking to boost income after recent forensic auditing revealed that the organisation has been beset by financial irregularities.
NPFL: Rivers United’s Coach Praises Players
The Chief Coach of Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt, Ndubuisi Nduka, has praised his players after a 1-0 win over Katsina United FC in the match day 28 of the Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) in Port Harcourt.
He stated that his boys (players) gave all their best to ensure they secured the maximum three points for the team, and described the encounter as very tough.
Nduka, said this on Sunday, during a post match interview with sports journalists, after the Pride of Rivers, defeated their opponents 1-0, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.
According to him, what made the match more difficult for his players was that they failed to utilise goal opportunities they created in the first half of the game.
The only goal of the game came in the 77th minute by home boy, Malachi Ohawume, who made his goals four for this league season.
“It was a tough game; I think our boys gave it all.
What made it more difficult for us was the chances we lost especially in the first half, “ Nduka said.
He explained that the second round of the league is always difficult because every team is fighting to be at top and some are fighting not to be relegated.
“At this point and time of the league, the second round, we are stretching to the finishing point.
“It is always difficult and if you remember the position of Katsina United, they are not safe so they are looking for where to pick points, so I gave kudos to my boys as they secured three points for us, “ he stated.
Rivers United is now 4th on the log after 28 matches with 48 points.
By: Kiadum Edookor
Hockey Championship: Team Rivers’ Performance Excites Coach
The Head coach of Team Rivers State, (female) hockey, Comfort Nya, has commended her players after they defeated team Edo, 3-1 in the ongoing, 2021 Mabisel National Hockey Championship (MNHC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
She, described the match as one of the toughest games they have played, saying that the calibre of players she saw in the team Edo lineup was intimidating.
Nya said this on Monday in her post match interview with sports journalists, after their first victory in the championship, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Sports in Port Harcourt.
According to her, their first game in the championship was difficult because of the heavy downpour, adding that they could not play well but today they are awesome.
“It was a tough one, honestly speaking I would not tell lies, and the players I saw in team Edo lineup are old and good players and my girls are just upcoming.
“I was thinking of draw or let them just play but with this result I am so happy with their performance, “Nya said.
The coach further explained that their next outing will be against team Kaduna, they are going to do more better.
“Our first game was disturbed by heavy rainfall, they could not play well but today they have performed well.
“In our next game against team Kaduna, we are going to do better,” She stated..
By: Kiadum Edookor
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