Imo Heartland Emerges Champions Of Maiden South-East Basketball Invitational Tournament
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By Our Correspondent
Imo Heartland Basketball Club, Owerri over the weekend emerged champions of the inaugural edition of the South-East Basketball Invitational Championships
The team from the Eastern Heartland State defeating the host team Coalcity Basketball club of Enugu by 43-42 at the indoor Sports Hall of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium.
Despite the heavy downpour which affected the finals with the licking roof recently claimed to be rehabilitated by the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, FMYS, the final game lived up to expectations as both teams displayed aggression, energy, passion, and scintillating basketball skills to the admiration and excitement of the fans, supporters, and lovers of the slam-and-dunk game.
The 4-day competition which dunked off on the 8th of June 2022, and organized by the Southeast basketball association, had in attendance the 5 states that made up the Zones Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo competing for the star prize.
Addressing the players from his base in the United States, a board member of the South East Basketball Association Kelechi Anuna, a silver medalist at the 2017 Afrobasket, reiterated that both the active players and veterans in the diaspora whose origin is from the zone are committed to taking the game to greater heights, reassuring that the crisis rocking the country’s federation will not deter their focus and Vision
“We are condemned to the goals and aspiration of the talents that abound the South East and will continue to do our best in the repositioning of the zone notwithstanding the challenges that we are faced with the recent being the ban placed on international competitions by the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development” he said.
The visitors’ Heartland started the competition on a brighter note, edged past team Ebonyi in the first game, lost two straight games to Abia and Enugu respectively, and scaled through to the semifinal to defeat Abia by 35-33.
While the Coalcity kings (Enugu) led by light and co basking in the euphoria of the home support dominated and outclassed all their opponents enroute to the final but lost one game to Anambra also by a slim margin of 24-25.
Similarly, Team Abia one of the exciting sides in this year’s edition of the competition, possessed quality, teamwork, ball distribution, skills, and physicality but unfortunately lost in the final quarter of the semifinal to Imo.
Anambra another side that showed signs of Un-coordination in their offensive and defensive play, likewise in their re-bounce failed to utilize their opportunities but still manage to play while team Ebonyi were the whipping boys of the tournament, losing four straight games.
In her words, the Coach of Team Imo, Ogbonnaya Chikadibia while expressing happiness with the performance of the team and also winning the competition in her debut coaching experience, stated that she was tensed up all through the 4th quarter until the last few seconds of the game.
According to the secretary of the South East Basketball association Osondu Ngwude, the train move to another state in the next few months as the Board of SEBA has concluded plans to develop the game in the zone.