Kwara Falcons Basketball Club yesterday emerged champions of the Louis Edem Invitational Basketball Event concluded at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
Seven elite basketball teams from across the states of Nigeria and Spintex Knights from Ghana competed for honours in a championship put together by the Louis Edem Ekpenyong Foundation.
Kwara Falcons opened their campaign with a 37-36 points win against Police, and also defeated Warlords 76-64, before losing 47-58 to Lagos Legends. The defeated Raptors 73-44 in the fourth game, to draw Almighty Rivers Hoopers, whom they defeated 68-57 in the semi-finals.
Kwara Falcons defeated Spintex Knights of Ghana 65-57 in the final, to win the championship
As anticipated, the game between Spintex Knights of Ghana and Kwara Falcons was nothing short of a thriller.
It was a battle between two teams but transcended to a friendly basketball feud between two nations, Ghana and Nigeria.
With the triumph, Kwara Falcons have proven that they are the undisputed best team in Nigeria currently. The team won the Sam Oguche Bullet Energy Drink basketball tournament last year and went on to win the Men’s Professional Basketball League same year, clinching the spot for a BAL Championship.
This current victory shows the first two were no flukes but a result of well orchestrated years of right scouting, team building, cohesion, hard work and growth, spareheaded by Coach Baba Jibril, who is the architect of the milestone.
Tolani Buhari was wonderful in the competition, coming with top-notch facilitating and commandeering. Owen Oriakhi proved the management of Kwara Falcons right for making all necessary efforts to land him. He was the defensive magnate of the team, adding seven steals to his tally. He combined with Victor Eze (the MVP) to score 25 points – 12 and 13 respectively.
But the player who rose to the occasion was Austin Akpejiori .He came into the game with a different vibe, energy and tact, the mindset of a winner. He showed he was prepared for the final. He assumed the role of ‘clean up master’s ensuring he kept the board clean and rim protected, dominated both offensive and defensive rebounds.
He had a partner on this mission, Anaba Kingsley, who complemented the effort of Austin. He ended the game with 8 vital points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and the icing on the cake was his put back dunk.
Though defeated, James Amotoe of the Knights didn’t go down without a fight, racking up 25 points but insufficient to secure a win. The Knights were cold and passive and picked up momentum at the tail end of the game. The defense of the Falcons was really amazing, discomforting the visitors and ensuring they flew pass the Knights with Nigerian flag.
The Spintex Knights really added colors to the tournament with a quality approach and game style but were not fortunate to seize the grand prize.