Osita Nwachukwu Signposting Grassroots Basketball Development As Novena Heartland Reach Mark D Ball Round 16
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By Our Correspondent
The Management of Novena Heartland Basketball Club of Owerri, says it is looking to beef up its team, ahead of Round of 16 phase of th bee 2022 Mark D Ball Men’s Basketball Championship, to be staged in Abuja.
CEO and Proprietor of the club, Osita Nwachukwu stated this while revising the sides performance, in the last qualifying phase of the Championship, which he said was the biggest tournament his players have been exposed to.
Nwachukwu, who is a Factional Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF Vice president, also hinted that he may go for a Centre and Shooting Guard, who are Americans, but of Nigerian descent.
“I also own Novena Queens, which is the women’s basketball team. Through both teams in Owerri and Abakiliki we have discovered a good number of talents in the South East region. But coming to play in Abuja was a good step up. It gave the guys good exposure.”
“Under the watch of Igoche Mark, the NBBF has resolved never to allow the domestic aspect of our basketball to suffer from inactivity, any more.”
Speaking exclusively to Radio Nigeria Sports, Captain of Novena Heartland, Chinedu Precious Asogwo rated his sides participation at the preliminary phase of Mark D Ball as the toughest competition the side has played in.
The 15 year old who stands at 6ft 5 Inches, also assured that they will work on their strength and stamina, while consolidating on the strong points that aided their qualification to the Round of 16.
“I train Novena Heartland in both its Camp in Owerri and Abakaliki, where I also assist my father in his Pharmacy Store. We had just three weeks to prepare, and during that time I was down with food poisoning, and thought I won’t be able to make the team. But because Basketball is all I have for now, somehow I recovered, and was selected to lead the team”.
Having been hired last year, Coach Achu Kingsley Kelechi said his passion lies with working with relatively unknown players, and it gives him joy to help nurture them to stardom.
According to him, he shuttles between Owerri and Abakaliki, where the team operates two training camps.
He also reserved special praise for the CEO Mr. Nwachukwu for being very supportive and doing his best to prioritize the welfare of the players, while giving them the much needed exposure, and career opportunities.
“My confidence that we will cope very well in the next phase of the championship, stems from the confidence of my players, who told me when we were to embark on this trip, that competing against elite players and beating the big boys will be fun”.
Darlington Marvelous Chukwuebuka, the Shooting Guard who scooped the award of MVP in the team’s last match, also echoed the untiring efforts of Mr. Nwachukwu, who he said has done a lot to promote and popularize Basketball, in the SE.
“Until this Mark D Ball championship, we did not have much to train for; this tournament exposed us to the real thing and we appreciate our CEO for what he is doing to advance the fortunes of basketball in the whole of South East; personally, I have a lot of mentors in and outside Nigeria, and I’m determined to make the most of the opportunities”.
According to the AICE Owerri undergraduate, he is happy for the opportunity to play for Novena Heartland, and hopes to use the platform, to achieve his goal of playing at the top level, at home and abroad, as a professional.